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MacmiI/L/AN &r Co 

" Xiit «p ijour beads." 

" 88* lift ibra u$ nxdo % Sorb." 


IN this book I have sought to trace the course of 
our religious poetry from an early period of our 
literary history. 

This could hardly be done without reference to 
some of the principal phases of the religious history 
of the nation. To give anything like a full history 
of the religious feeling of a single county, would 
require a large book, and — not to mention sermons 
— would involve a thorough acquaintance w r ith the 
hymns of the country, — a very wide subject, w r hich 
I have not considered of sufficient importance from a 
literary point of view to come within the scope of the 

But if its poetry be the cream of a people's thought, 
some true indications of the history of its religious 
feeling must be found in its religious verse, and I 


hope I have not altogether failed in setting forth 
these indications. 

My chief aim, however, will show itself to have 
been the mediating towards an intelligent and cordial 
sympathy betwixt my readers and the writers from 
whom I have quoted. In this I have some confidence 
of success. 

Heartily do I throw this my small pebble at the 
head of the great Sabbath-breaker Schism. 




















































If the act of worship be the highest human condi- 
tion, it follows that the highest human art must find 
material in the modes of worship. The first poetry 
of a nation will not be religious poetry : the nation 
must have a history at least before it can possess any 
material capable of being cast into the mould of 
religious utterance ; but, the nation once possessed of 
this material, poetry is the first form religious utter- 
ance will assume. 

The earliest form of literature is the ballad, which 
is the germ of all subsequent forms of poetry, for it 
has in itself all their elements : the lyric, for it was 
first chanted to some stringed instrument ; the epic y 
for it tells a tale, often of solemn and ancient report ; 
the dramatic, for its actors are ever ready to start 
forward into life, snatch the word from the mouth of 
the narrator, and speak in their own persons. All 
these forms have been used for the utterance of 
religious thought and feeling. Of the lyrical poems 
of England, religion possesses the most ; of the epic, 
the best ; of the dramatic, the oldest. 

s. L. IV. B 


Of each of these I shall have occasion to speak ; 
but, as the title of the book implies, — for Antiphon 
means the responsive song of the parted choir, — I 
shall have chiefly to do with the lyric or song form. 

For song is the speech of feeling. Even the prose 
of emotion always wanders into the rhythmical. 
Hence, as well as for other reasons belonging to its 
nature, it is one chief mode in which men unite to 
praise God ; for in thus praising they hold communion 
with each other, and the praise expands and grows. 

The individual heart, however, must first have 
been uplifted into praiseful song, before the common 
ground and form of feeling, in virtue of which men 
might thus meet, could be supplied. But the vocal 
utterance or the bodily presence is not at all neces- 
sary for this communion. When we read rejoicingly 
the true song-speech of one of our singing brethren, 
we hold song-worship with him and with all who have 
thus at any time shared in his feelings, even if he 
have passed centuries ago into the "high countries" 
of song. 

My object is to erect, as it were, in this book, a 
little auricle, or spot of concentrated hearing, where 
the hearts of my readers may listen, and join in the 
song of their country's singing men and singing 

I will build it, if I may, like a chapel in the great 
church of England's worship, gathering the sounds 
of its never-ceasing choir, heart after heart lifting up 
itself in the music of speech, heart after heart respond- 
ing across the ages. Hearing, we worship with them. 


For we must not forget that, although the individual 
song springs from the heart of the individual, the 
song of a country is not merely cumulative : it is vital 
in its growth, and therefore composed of historically 
dependent members. Xo man could sing as he has 
sung, had not others sung before him. Deep answereth 
unto deep, face to face, praise to praise. To the sound 
of the trumpet the harp returns its own vibrating 
response— alike, but how different ! The religious 
song of the country, I say again, is a growth, rooted 
deep in all its story. 

Besides the fact that the lyric chiefly will rouse 
the devotional feeling, there is another reason why 
I should principally use it : I wish to make my book 
valuable in its parts as in itself. The value of a 
thing depends in large measure upon its unity, its 
wholeness. In a work of these limits, that form of 
verse alone can be available for its unity which is 
like the song of the bird — a warble and then a still- 
ness. However valuable an extract may be — and I 
shall not quite eschew such — an entire lyric, I had 
almost said however inferior, if worthy of a place at all, 
is of greater value, especially if regarded in relation to 
the form of setting with which I hope to surround it. 

There is a sense in which I may, without presump- 
tion, adopt the name of Choragus, or leader of the 
chorus, in relation to these singers : I must take upon 
me to order who shall sing, when he shall sing, and 
which of his songs he shall sing. But I would rather 
assume the office of master of the hearing, for my 
aim shall be to cause the song to be truly heard ; to 

1) 2 


set forth worthy points in form, in matter, and in 
relation ; to say with regard to the singer himself, 
his time, its modes, its beliefs, such things as may 
help to set the song in its true light — its relation, 
namely, to the source whence it sprung, which alone 
can secure its right reception by the heart of the 
hearer. For my chief aim will be the heart ; seeing 
that, although there is no dividing of the one from 
the other, the heart can do far more for the intellect 
than the intellect can do for the heart. 

We must not now attempt to hear the singers of 
times so old that their language is unintelligible with- 
out labour. For this there is not room, even if other- 
wise it were desirable that such should divide the 
volume. We must leave Anglo-Saxon behind us. 
In Early English, I shall give a few valuable lyrics, 
but they shall not be so far removed from our present 
speech but that, with a reasonable amount of assist- 
ance, the nature and degree of which I shall set forth, 
they shall not only present themselves to the reader's 
understanding, but commend themselves to his ima- 
gination and judgment. 



IN the midst of wars and rumours of wars, the 
strife of king and barons, and persistent efforts to 
subdue neighbouring countries, the mere effervescence 
of the life of the nation, let us think for a moment of 
that to which the poems I am about to present bear 
good witness — the true life of the people, growing 
quietly, slowly, unperceived — the leaven hid in the 
meal. For what is the true life of a nation ? That, 
I answer, in its modes of thought, its manners and 
habits, which favours the growth within the individual 
of that kingdom of heaven for the sake only of which 
the kingdoms of earth exist. The true life of the 
people, as distinguished from the nation, is simply 
the growth in its individuals of those eternal prin- 
ciples of truth, in proportion to whose power in 
them the\- take rank in the kingdom of heaven, the 
only kingdom that can endure, all others being but 
as the mimicries of children playing at government. 

Little as they then knew of the relations of the 
wonderful story on which their faith was built, to 
everything human, the same truth was at work then 


which is now — poor as the recognition of these rela- 
tions yet is — slowly setting men free. In the hardest 
winter the roots are still alive in the frozen ground. 

In the silence of the monastery, unnatural as that 
life was, germinated much of this deeper life. As we 
must not judge of the life of the nation by its kings 
and mighty men, so we must not judge of the life in 
the Church by those who are called Rabbi. The 
very notion of the kingdom of heaven implies a secret 
growth, secret from no affectation of mystery, but 
because its goings-on are in the depths of the human 
nature where it holds communion with the Divine. 
In the Church, as in society, we often find that that 
which shows itself uppermost is but the froth, a sign, it 
may be, of life beneath, but in itself worthless. When 
the man arises with a servant's heart and a ruler's 
brain, then is the summer of the Church's content. 
But whether the men who wrote the following songs 
moved in some shining orbit of rank, or only knelt 
in some dim chapel, and w r alked in some pale cloister, 
we cannot tell, for they have left no name behind them. 

My reader will observe that there is little of theory 
and much of love in these lyrics. The recognition 
of a living Master is far more than any notions about 
him. In the worship of him a thousand truths are 
working, unknown and yet active, which, embodied 
\\\ theory, and dissociated from the living mind that 
was in Christ, will as certainly breed worms as any 
omer of hoarded manna. Holding the skirt of his 
garment in one hand, we shall in the other hold the 
key to all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 


I think almost all the earliest religious poetry is 
about him and his mother. Their longing after his 
humanity made them idolize his mother. If we 
forget that only through his humanity can we ap- 
proach his divinity, we shall soon forget likewise that 
his mother is blessed among women. 

I take the poems from one of the Percy Society 
publications, edited by Mr. Wright from a manuscript 
in the British Museum. He adjudges them to the 
reign of Edward I. Perhaps we may find in them 
a sign or two that in cultivating our intellect we 
have in some measure neglected our heart. 

But first as to the mode in which I present them to 
my readers : I have followed these rules : — 

i. Wherever a word differs from the modern word 
only in spelling, I have, for the sake of readier com- 
prehension, substituted the modern form, with the 
following exception : — Where the spelling indicates a 
different pronunciation, necessary for the rhyme or 
the measure, I retain such part of the older form, 
marking with an acute accent any vowel now silent 
which must be sounded. 

2. Where the word used is antique in root, I give 
the modern synonym in the margin. Antique phrases 
I explain in foot-notes. 

It must be borne in mind that our modern pronun- 
ciation can hardly fail in other cases as well to injure 
the melody of the verses. 

The modern reader will often find it difficult to get a 
rhythm out of some of them. This may arise from any 
of several causes. In the first place many final Ss were 


then sounded which arc now silent ; and it is not easy 
to tell which of them to sound. Again, some words 
were pronounced as dissyllables which we treat as 
monosyllables, and others as monosyllables which we 
treat as dissyllables. I suspect besides, that some of 
the old writers were content to allow a prolonged 
syllable to stand for two short ones, a mode not 
without great beauty when sparingly and judiciously 
employed. Short supernumerary syllables were like- 
wise allowed considerable freedom to come and go. 
A good deal must, however, be put down to the 
carelessness and presumption of the transcribers, who 
may very well have been incapable of detecting their 
own blunders. One of these ancient mechanics of 
literature caused Chaucer endless annoyance with his 
corruptions, as a humorous little poem, the last in his 
Works, sufficiently indicates. From the same sources 
no doubt spring as well most of the variations of text 
in the manuscripts. 

The first of the poems is chiefly a conversation 
between the Lord on the cross and his mother 
standing at its foot. A few prefatory remarks in 
explanation of some of its allusions will help my 
readers to enjoy it. 

It was at one time a common belief, and the 
notion has not yet, I think, altogether vanished, that 
the dying are held back from repose by the love that 
is unwilling to yield them up. Hence, in the third 
stanza, the Lord prays his mother to let him die. 

In the fifth, he reasons against her overwhelming 
sorrows on the ground of the deliverance his suffer- 


ings will bring to the human race. But she can only 
feel her own misery. 

To understand the seventh and eighth, it is neces- 
sary to know that, among other strange things ac- 
cepted by the early Church, it was believed that the 
mother of Jesus had no suffering at his birth. This 
of course rendered her incapable of perfect sympathy 
with other mothers. It is a lovely invention, then, 
that he should thus commend mothers to his mother, 
telling her to judge of the pains of motherhood by 
those which she now endured. Still he fails to turn 
aside her thoughts. She is thinking still only of her 
own and her son's suffering, while he continues bent 
on making her think of others, until, at last, forth 
comes her prayer for all women. This seems to me 
a tenderness grand as exquisite. 

The outburst of the chorus of the Faithful in the 
last stanza but one, — 

When he rose, then fell her sorrow, 

is as fine as anything I know in the region of the 


'"' Stand well, mother, under rood ; 1 the cross. 

Behold thy son with glade mood ; cheerfuL 

Blithe mother mayst thou be." 
" Son, how should I blithe stand? 
I see thy feet, I see thy hand 

Nailed to the hard tree." 

1 The rhymes of the first and second and of the fourth and fifth 
lines throughout the stanzas, are all, I think, what the French call 
feminine rhymes, as in the words "sleeping," " weeping." This I think 
it better not to attempt retaining, because the final unaccented syllable 
is generally one of those es which, having first become mute, have 
since been dropped from our spelling altogether. 


" Mother, do way thy wepynde : 

I thole death for mankind — 

For my guilt thole I none." 
" Son, I feel the dede stounde ; 

The sword is at my heart's ground 

That me byhet Simeon." 
" Mother, mercy ! let me die, 
For Adam out of hell buy, 

And his kin that is forlore." 
" Son, what shall me to rede ? l 
My pain paineth me to dede : 

Let me die thee before !" 

" Mother, thou rue all of thy bairn ; 
Thou wash away the bloody tern ; 

It doth me worse than my ded.' ? 
" Son, how may I teres werne? 
I see the bloody streames erne 

From thy heart to my fet." 

" Mother, now I may thee seye, 
Better is that I one deye 

Than all mankind to helle go." 
" Son, I see thy body byswongen, 
Feet and hands throughout stongen : 

No wonder though me be woe/' 

" Mother, now I shall thee tell, 
If I not die, thou goest to hell : 

I thole death for thy sake." 
" Son, thou art so meek and mynde, 
Xe wyt me not, it is my kind 2 

That I for thee this sorrow make.' 

give over thy weeping 




for to buy Adam, 


rue thou: all is 
ivash thou : tear 



Jnirts vie more: 


turn aside tears. 


say to thee. 



pierced throng 

& ■ 



" Mother, now thou mayst well leren learn. 

What sorrow have that children beren, they have: bear. 
What sorrow it is with childe gon." to go. 

1 For the grammatical interpretation of this line, I am indebted to 
Mr. Richard Morris. Shall is here used, as it often is, in the sense of 
musty and rede is a noun; the paraphrase of the whole being, " Sou, 
what must be to me for counsel ? " " What counsel must I follow ?" 

- " Do not blame me, it is my nature." 

M. /AT at Tin: CROSS. 


take pit) 


woman with cJiild. 

" Sorrow, I wis ! I can thee tell ! 
Hut it be the pain of hell 
More sorrow wot I none." 

" Mother, rue of mother-care. 

For now thou wost of mother-fare, 

Though thou be clean maiden moiL 
" Sone, help at alle need 
A lie those that to me grede, 

Maiden, wife, and full wymmon." 

" Mother, may I no longer dwell ; 
The time is come I shall to hell ; 

The third day I rise upon." 
" Son, I will with thee founden ; 
I die, I wis, for thy wounden : 

So sorrowful death nes never none." 

When he rose, then fell her sorrow ; 
Her bliss sprung the third morrow : 

Blithe mother wert thou tho ! 
Lady, for that ilke bli>s, 
Beseech thy son of sunnes lisse : 

Thou be our shield against our foe. 

Blessed be thou, full of bliss ! 
Let us never heaven miss, 

Through thy sweete Sones might ! 
Loverd, for that ilke blood, 
That thou sheddest on the rood, 

Thou bring us into heaven's light. AMEN. 

set out \ 

was not never none. 

for sin' 3 r. 
lie thou. 

I think my readers will not be sorry to have another 

of a similar character. 

I sigh when I sing 

For sorrow that I - . 
When I with weeping 

Behold upon the tree, 

1 Mon is used for man or woman : human 1 eing. 
Lancashire still : they saj n man. 



And see Jesus the sweet 

His heart's blood for-lete yield quite. 

For the love of me. 
His woundes waxen wete, wet. 

They weepen still and mete : T 

Mary rueth thee. pitieth. 

High upon a down, hill. 

Where all folk it see may, 
A mile from each town, 

About the mid-day, 
The rood is up areared ; 
His friendes are afeared, 

And clingeth so the clay ; - 
The rood stands in stone, 
Mary stands her on, 

And saith Welaway ! 

When I thee behold 

With eyen brighte bo, eyes bright both. 

And thy body cold — 

Thy ble waxeth bio, colour: livid. 

Thou hangest all of blood bloody. 

So high upon the rood 

Between thieves tuo — /too. 

Who may sigh more ? 
Mary weepeth sore, 

And sees all this woe. 

The nails be too strong. 

The smiths are too sly ; skilful. 

Thou bleedest all too long ; 

The tree is all too high ; 
The stones be all wete ! root. 

Alas, Jesu, the sweet ! 

For now friend hast thou none, 

1 "They weep quietly and becomingly." I think there must be in 
this word something of the sense of gently^ uncomplainingly. 

- ''And are shrunken [clung with fear) like the clay." So here i> 
the same as as. For this interpretation 1 am indebted to Mr. Morris. 



But Saint John to-mournynde, 
And Mary wepynde, 

For pain that thee is on. 

Oft when I sike 

And makie my moan, 
Well ill though me like, 

Wonder is it none, 1 
When I see hang high 
And bitter pains dreye, 

Jesu, my lemmon ! 
His woundes sore smart, 
The spear all to his heart 

And through his side is gone. 

mourning greatly, 


dree, endure, 

Oft when I syke, 

With care I am through-sought ; 
When I wake I wyke ; 

Of sorrow is all my thought. 
Alas ! men be wood 
That swear by the rood 

And sell him for nought 
That bought us out of sin. 
He bring us to wynne, 

That hath us dear bought ! 


searched through, 


swear by /he cross. 

may he : bliss. 

I add two stanzas of another of like sort. 

Man that is in glory and bliss, 

And lieth in shame and sin, 
lie is more than unwis 

That thereof will not blynne. 
All this world it goeth away, 
Me thinketh it nigheth Doomsday ; 

Now man goes to ground : 
Jesus Christ that tholed ded 
He may our souls to heaven led 

Within a little stoun 1. 



endured death, 
mom en*. 

1 " It is no wonder though it pleases me very : 


that was mild and free, 
Was with spear y-stongen ; stung ox pierced. 

He was nailed to the tree, 

With scourges y-swongen. lashed. 

All for man he tholed shame, endured. 

Withouten guilt, withouten blame, 

Bothe day and other. 1 
Man, full muchel he loved thee, much. 

When he wolde make thee free, 

And become thy brother. 

The simplicity, the tenderness, the devotion of 
these lyrics is to me wonderful. Observe their realism, 
as, for instance, in the words : " The stones beoth al 
wete;" a realism as far removed from the coarseness 
of a Rubens as from the irreverence of too many 
religious teachers, who will repeat and repeat again 
the most sacred words for the merest logical ends 
until the tympanum of the moral ear hears without 
hearing the sounds that ought to be felt as well as 
held holiest. They bear strongly, too, upon the out- 
come of feeling in action, although doubtless there 
was the same tendency then as there is now to regard 
the observance of church-ordinances as the service of 
Christ, instead of as a means of gathering strength 
wherewith to serve him by being in the world as he 
was in the world. 

From a poem of forty-eight stanzas I choose five, 
partly in order to manifest that, although there is 
in it an occasional appearance of what we should 

1 I think the poet, wisely anxious to keep his last line just what 
. was perplexed for a rhyme, and fell on the odd device of saying, 
both day and night," " both day and the other." 


consider sentimentality, allied in nature to that wor- 
ship of the Virgin which is more a sort of French 
gallantry than a feeling" of reverence, the sense of 
duty to the Master keeps pace with the profession of 
devotedness to him. There is so little continuity 
of thought in it, that the stanzas might almost be 
arranged anyhow. 

Jesu, thy love be all my thought ; 

Of other thing ne reck I nought ; reckon. 

I yearn to have thy will y-wrought, 

For thou me hast well dear y-bought. 

Jesu, veil may mine hearte see 

That mild and meek he must be, 

All unthews and lustes flee, bad habits. 

That feelen will the bliss of thee. feel. 

For sinful folk, sweet Jesus, 
Thou lightest from the high house ; 
Poor and low thou wert for us. 
Thine heart's love thou sende>t us. 

Jesu, therefore beseech I thee 

Thy sweet love thou grant me ; 

That I thereto worthy be, 

Make me worthy that art so free. thou that art. 

Jesu, thine help at my ending ! 

And in that dreadful out-wending, going forth of the spirit. 

Send my soul good weryvng, guard. 

That I ne dread none evil thing. 

I shall next present a short lyric, displaying more 
of art than this last, giving it now in the old form, 
and afterwards in a new one, that my reader may 


see both how it looks in its original dress, and what 
it means. 

Wynter wakeneth al my care, 

Nou this leves waxeth bare, 

Ofte y sike ant mourne sare, sigh ; sore. 

When hit cometh in my thoht 

Of this worldes joie, how hit goth al 
to noht. 

Now hit is, ant now hit nys, it is not 

Also hit ner nere y-wys, 1 

That moni mon seith soth hit ys, 2 

Al goth bote Godes wille, 

Alle we shule deye, thah us like ylle. though it pleases its ill. 

Al that gren me graueth grene, 3 

Nou hit faleweth al by-dene; grows yellow : speedily, 

Jhesu, help that hit be sene, seen. 

Ant shilcl us from helle ; 

For y not whider y shal, ne hou longe 
her duelle. 4 

I will now give a modern version of it, in which 
I have spoiled the original of course, but I hope as 
little as well may be. 

Winter wakeneth all my care ; 

Now the trees are waxing bare ; 

Oft my sighs my grief declare 

When it comes into my thought 

Of this world's joy, how it goes all to nought. 

1 " All as if it were not never, I wis." 

- " So that many men say — True it is, all goeth but God's will." 

2 I conjecture " All that grain (me) groweth green." 

4 Nut is a contraction for ne wot, know not, " For I know not 

whither I must go, nor how long here I dwell." I think y is omitted 
by mistake before duelle, 

6 This is very poor compared with the original. 


Now it is, and qow 'tis not — 

As it ne'er had been, I wot. 
Hence many say — it is man's lot : 

All goeth but God's will ; 

We all die, though we like it ill. 

Green about me grows the grain ; 
Now it yelloweth all again : 
Jesus, give us help amain, 

And shield us from hell ; 

Fur when or whither Igo I cannot tell. 

There were no doubt many religious poems in 
a certain amount of circulation of a different cast 
from these ; some a metrical recounting of portions 
of the Bible history — a kind unsuited to our ends ; 
others a setting forth of the doctrines and duties 
then believed and taught. Of the former class is one 
of the oldest Anglo-Saxon poems we have, that of 
Caedmon, and there are many specimens to be found 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They 
could, however, have been of little service to the 
people, so few of whom could read, or could have 
procured manuscripts if they had been able to use 
them. A long and elaborate composition of the latter 
class was written in the reign of Edward II. by 
William de Shoreham, vicar of Chart-Sutton in Kent. 
He probably taught his own verses to the people 
at his catechisings. The intention was, no doubt, by 
the aid of measure and rhyme to facilitate the remem- 
brance of the facts and doctrines. It consists of a 
long poem on the Seven Sacraments ; of a shorter, 
associating the Canonical Hours with the principal 
events of the close of our Lord's life ; of an exposi- 
tion of the Ten Commandments, followed by a kind 

s.l. iv. C 


of treatise on the Seven Cardinal Sins : the fifth part 
describes the different joys of the Virgin ; the sixth, 
in praise of the Virgin, is perhaps the most poetic ; 
the last is less easy to characterize. The poem is 
written in the Kentish dialect, and is difficult. 

I shall now turn into modern verse a part of " The 
Canonical Hours," giving its represented foundation 
of the various acts of worship in the Romish Church 
throughout the day, from early in the morning to the 
last service at night. After every fact concerning 
our Lord, follows an apostrophe to his mother, which 
I omit, being compelled to choose. 

Father's wisdom lifted high, 

Lord of us aright — 
God and man taken was, 

At matin-time by night. 
The disciples that were his, 

Anon they him forsook ; 
Sold to Jews and betrayed, 

To torture him took. 

At the prime Jesus was led 

In presence of Pilate, 
Where witnesses, false and fell, 

Laughed at him for hate. 
In the neck they him smote, 

Bound his hands of might ; 
Spit upon that sweet face 

That heaven and earth did light. 

" Crucify him ! crucify ! " 

They cried at nine o'clock ; 
A purple cloth they put on him — 

To stare at him and mock. 
They upon his sweet head 

Stuck a thorny crown ; 
To Calvary his cross he bears, 

Pitiful, from the town 


Jesus was nailed on the cr 

At the noon-tide ; 
Strong thieves they hanged up, 

( )ne on either .side. 
In his pain, his strong thirst 

Quenched they with gall ; 
So that God's holy Land) 

From sin washed us all. 

At the nones Jesus Christ 

Felt the hard death ; 
He to his father "Eloi !" cried. 

Can up yield his breath. 
A soldier with a sharp spear 

Pierced his right side ; 
The earth shook, the sun grew dim, 

The moment that he died. 

He was taken off the cross 

At even-song s hour ; 
The strength left and hid in God 

Of our Saviour. 
Such deatli he underwent, 

Of life the medicine ! 
Alas ! he was laid adown — 

The crown of bliss in pine ! 

At complines, it was borne away 

To the burying. 
That noble corpse of Jesus Christ, 

Hope of life's coming. 
Anointed richly it was, 

Fulfilled his holy book : 
I pray, Lord, thy passion 

In my mind lock. 

Childlike simplicity, realism, and tenderness will 
be evident in this, as in preceding poems, especially 
in the choice of adjectives. But indeed the combina- 

C 2 


tion of certain words had become conventional ; as 
"The hard tree," "The nails great and strong," and 
such like. 

I know I have spoiled the poem in half-translating 
it thus ; but I have rendered it intelligible to all my 
readers, have not wandered from the original, and 
have retained a degree of antiqueness both in the 
tone and the expression. 



The oldest form of regular dramatic representation 
in England was the Miracle Plays, improperly called 
Mysteries, after the French. To these plays the 
people of England, in the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries, owed a very large portion of what religious 
knowledge they possessed, for the prayers were in 
an unknown tongue, the sermons were very few, and 
printing was uninvented. The plays themselves, in- 
troduced into the country by the Normans, were, in 
the foolish endeavour to make Normans of Anglo- 
Saxons, represented in Norman French 1 until the 
year 1338, when permission was obtained from the 
Pope to represent them in English, 

The word Miracle, in their case, means anything 
recorded in Scripture. The Miracle Plays had for 
their subjects the chief incidents of Old and New- 
Testament history ; not merely, however, of this 
history as accepted by the Reformed Church, but of 

1 I owe almost all my information on the history of these plays to 
Mr. Collier's well-known work on English Dramatic Poetry, 


that contained in the Apocryphal Gospels as well. 
An entire series of these Miracles consisted of short 
dramatic representations of many single passages of 
the sacred story. The whole would occupy about three 
days. It began with the Creation, and ended with 
the Judgment. That for which the city of Coventry 
was famous consists of forty-two subjects, with a long 
prologue. Composed by ecclesiastics, the plays would 
seem to have been first represented by them only, 
although afterwards it was not always considered 
right for the clergy to be concerned with them. The 
hypocritical Franciscan friar, in " Piers Ploughman's 
Creed," a poem of the close of the same century, 
claims as a virtue for his order — 

At markets and miracles we meddleth us never. 

They w r ould seem likewise to have been first repre- 
sented in churches and chapels, sometimes in church- 
yards. Later, when the actors chiefly belonged to 
city-guilds, they were generally represented in the 
streets and squares. 

It must be borne in mind by any who would 
understand the influence of these plays upon the 
people, that much in them appearing to us grotesque, 
childish, absurd, and even irreverent, had no such 
appearance in the cyc<> of the spectators. A certain 
amount of the impression of absurdity is simply the 
consequence of antiquity ; and even that which is 
rightly regarded as absurd in the present age, will not 
at least have produced the discomposing effects of ab- 
surdity upon the less developed beholders of that age; 


just as the quaint pictures with which their churches 

were decorated may make us smile, but were by them 
regarded with awe and reverence from their infancy. 

It must be confessed that there is in them even 
occasional coarseness ; but that the devil for instance 
should always be represented as a baffled fool, and 
made to play the buffoon sometimes after a disgusting 
fashion, was to them only the treatment he deserved : 
it was their notion of " poetic justice ; " while most of 
them were too childish to be shocked at the discord 
thus introduced, and many, we may well hope, too 
childlike to lose their reverence for the holy because 
of the proximity of the ridiculous. 

There seems to me considerably more of poetic 
worth scattered through these plays than is generally 
recognized ; and I am glad to be able to do a little 
to set forth the fact. I cannot doubt that my 
readers will be interested in such fragments as the 
scope and design of my book will allow me to offer. 
Had there been no such passages, I might have 
regarded the plays as but remotely connected with 
my purpose, and mentioned them merely as a dra- 
matic form of religious versification. I quote from 
the Coventry Miracles, better known than either of 
the other two sets in existence, the Chester Plays 
and those of Widkirk Abbey. The manuscript from 
which they have been edited by Mr. Hal li well, one 
of those students of our early literature to whom 
we are endlessly indebted for putting valuable things 
within our reach, is by no means so old as the plays 
themselves ; it bears date 1468, a hundred and thirty 


years after they appeared in their English dress. 
Their language is considerably modernized, a process 
constantly going on where transcription is the means 
of transmission — not to mention that the actors 
would of course make many changes to the speech of 
their own time. I shall modernize it a little further, 
but only as far as change of spelling will go. 

The first of the course is The Crcatio?i. God, and 
angels, and Lucifer appear. That God should here 
utter, I cannot say announce, the doctrine of the 
Trinity, may be defended on the ground that he 
does so in a soliloquy ; but when we find afterwards 
that the same doctrine is one of the subjects upon 
which the boy Jesus converses with the doctors in the 
Temple, we cannot help remarking the strange ana- 
chronism. Two remarkable lines in the said soliloquy 
are these : 

And all that ever shall have being 
It is closed in my mind. 

The next scene is the Fall of Man, which is full of 
poetic feeling and expression both. I must content 
myself with a few passages. 

Here is part of Eve's lamentation, when she is 
conscious of the death that has laid hold upon her. 

Alas that ever that speech was spoken 

That the false angel said unto me ! 
Alas ! our Makers bidding is broken, 

For I have touched his own dear tree. 
Our fleshly eyes are all unlokyn, unlocked. 

Naked for sin ourself we see ; 
That sorry apple that we have sokyn sucked. 

To death hath brought my spouse and me. 


When the voice of God is heard, saying, 

Adam, that with my hands T made, 

"Where art thou now ? what hast thou wrought ? 

Adam replies, in two lines, containing the whole truth 
of man's spiritual condition ever since : 

All, Lord ! for sin our flowers do fade : 
I hear thy voice, but I see thee nought. 

The vision had vanished, but the voice remained ; for 
they that hear shall live, and to the pure in heart one 
day the vision shall be restored, for "they shall see 
God." There is something- wonderfully touching in 
the quaint simplicity of the following words of God to 
the woman : 

Unwise woman, say me why 
That thou hast done this foul folly, 
And I made thee a great lady, 
In Paradise for to play? 

As they leave the gates, the angel with the flaming 
sword ends his speech thus : 

Tli is bliss I spere from you right fast ; bar. 

Herein come ye no more, 
Till a child of a maid be born, 
And upon the rood rent and torn. 
To save all that ye have forlorn, 

Your wealth for to restore. 

Eve laments bitterly, and at length offers her throat 
to her husband, praying him to strangle her : 

Now stumble we on stalk and stone ; 
My wit away from me is gone ; 
Writhe on to my neck-bone 

With hardness of thine hand. 


Adam replies — not over politely — 

^Yife, thy wit is not worth a rush ; 

and goes on to make what excuse for themselves he 
can in a very simple and touching manner : 

Our hap was hard, our wit was nesche, soft, weak, still in use 

To Paradise when we were brought : [in some provinces. 

My weeping shall be long fresh; 

Short liking shall be long bought. pleasure. 

The scene ends with these words from Eve : 

Alas, that ever we wrought this sin ! 
Our bodily sustenance for to win, 
Ve must delve and I shall spin, 
In care to lead our life. 

Cain and Abel follows ; then Noalis Flood, in which 
God says, 

They shall not dread the flood's flow ; 

then Abraham's Sacrifice ; then Moses and the Two 
Tables ; then The Prophets, each of whom prophesies 
of the coming Saviour ; after which we find ourselves 
in the Apocryphal Gospels, in the midst of much 
nonsense about Anna and Joachim, the parents of 
Mary, about Joseph and Mary and the birth of Jesus, 
till we arrive at The Shepherds and The Magi, The 
Purification, The Slaughter of the Innocents, The Dis- 
puting in the Temple, The Baptism, The Temptation, 
and The Woman taken in Adultery, at which point. 
I pause for the sake of the remarkable tradition 
embodied in the scene — that each of the woman's 
accusers thought Jesus was writing his individual sins 
on the ground. While he is writing the second time, 


the Pharisee, the Accuser, and the Scribe, who have 

chiefly sustained the dialogue hitherto, separate, each 
going into a different part of the Temple, and solilo- 
quize thus : 

Pharisee. Alas ! alas ! I am ashamed ! 

I am afeared that I shall die ; 
All my sins even properly named 

Von prophet did write before mine eye. 
If that my fellows that did espy, 

They will tell it both far and wide ; 
My sinful living if they outcry, 

I wot not where my head to hide. 

Accuser. Alas ! for sorrow mine heart doth bleed, 

All my sins yon man did write ; 
If that my fellows to them took heed, 

I cannot me from death acquite. 
I would I were hid somewhere out of sight, 

That men should me nowhere see nor know ; 
If I be taken 1 am aflyght afraid. 

In mekyl shame I shall be throwe. much. 

Scribe. Alas the time that this betyd ! Jiappcucd. 

Right bitter care doth me embrace. 
All my sins be now unhid, 

Von man before me them all doth trace. 
If I were once out of this place, 

To suffer death great and vengeance able, 1 
I will never come before his lace, 

Though I .should die in a stable. 

Upon this follows The Raising of Lazarus ; next 

The Council of the Jews, to which the devil appears as 
a Prologue, dressed in the extreme of the fashion of 
the day, which he sets forth minutely enough in his 
speech also. The Entry into Jerusalem; The Last 

1 Able (0 sujjcr, deserving, subject to, <>l<n<>\iuus to, liable to death 
and vengeance. 


Supper; The Betrayal ; King Herod ; The Trial of 
Christ ; Pilate's Wife's Dream come next ; to the 
subject of the last of which the curious but generally 
accepted origin is given, that it was inspired by 
Satan, anxious that Jesus should not be slain, because 
he dreaded the mischief he would work when he 
entered Hades or Hell, for there is no distinction 
between them either here or in the Apocryphal 
Gospel whence the Deseeut into Hell is taken. Then 
follow The Crucifixion and The Descent into Hell — 
often called the Harrowing of Hell — that is, the 
making war upon or despoiling of hell? for which the 
authority is a passage in the Gospel of Xicodemus, full 
of a certain florid Eastern grandeur. I need hardly 
remind my readers that the Apostles' Creed, as it now 
stands, contains the same legend in the form of an 
article of faith. The allusions to it are frequent in 
the early literature of Christendom. 

The soul of Christ comes to the gates of hell, and 
says : 

Undo your gates of sorwatorie ; place of sorrow \ 

On man's soul I have memorie : 
There cometh now the king of glory, 

These gates for to breke ! 
Ye devils that are here within, 
Hell gates ye shall unpin; 
I shall deliver man's kin — 

From woe 1 will them wreke. avenge. 

1 The word harry is ^till used in Scotland,, but only in regard to a 
bird's nest. 


Against me it were but waste 
To holdyn or to standyn fast; 
I [ell-lodge may not last 
Against the king of glory. 

Thy dark door down I throw ; 
My fair friends now well I know ; 
I shall them bring, reckoned byrow, 
( Hit of their purgatory ! 

The Burial ; The Resurrection ; The Three Maries; 

Christ appearing to Mary ; The Pilgrim of Emrnaus ; 
The Ascension ; The Descent of the Holy Ghost ; The 
Assumption of the Virgin; and Doomsday, close the 
scries. I have quoted enough to show that these 
plays must, in the condition of the people to whom 
they were presented, have had much to do with their 
religious education. 

This fourteenth century was a wonderful time of 
outbursting life. Although we cannot claim the 
Miracles as entirely English products, being in all pro- 
bability translations from the Norman-French, yet 
the fact that they were thus translated is one remark- 
able amongst many in this dawn of the victor}' of 
England over her conquerors. From this time, English 
prospered and French decayed. Their own language 
was now, so far, authorized as the medium of religious 
instruction to the people, while a similar change had 
passed upon processes at law; and, most significant 
of all, the greatest poet of the time, and one of the 
three greatest poets as yet of all English time, wrote, 
although a courtier, in the language of the people. 
Before selecting some of Chaucer's religious verses, 
however, I must speak of two or three poems by 
other writers. 


The first of these is The Vision of William con- 
cerning Piers Plowman^ — a poem of great influence 
in the same direction as the writings of Wycliffe. It 
is a vision and an allegory, wherein the vices of the 
time, especially those of the clergy, are unsparingly 
dealt with. Towards the close it loses itself in a meta- 
physical allegory concerning Dowel, Dobet, and Do- 
best. 1 I do not find much poetry in it. There is 
more, to my mind, in another poem, written some 
thirty or forty years later, the author of which is 
unknown, perhaps because he was an imitator of 
William Langland, the author of the Vision. It is 
called Pierce the Plong/unaiis Crcde. Both are written 
after the fashion of the Anglo-Saxon poetry, and 
not after the fashion of the Anglo-Norman, of which 
distinction a little more presently. Its object is to 
contrast the life and character of the four orders 
of friars with those of a simple Christian. There 
is considerable humour in the working plan of the 

A certain poor man says he has succeeded in 
learning his A B C, his Paternoster, and his Ave 
Mary, but he cannot, do what he will, learn his 
Creed. He sets out, therefore, to find some one 
whose life, according with his profession, may give 
him a hope that he will teach him his creed aright. 
He applies to the friars. One after another, every 
order abuses the other ; nor this only, but for money 
offers either to teach him his creed, or to absolve 

1 Do-well, Do-better, and Do-best. 


him for ignorance of the same. lie finds no helper 
until he falls in with Pierce the Ploughman, of whose 
poverty he gives a most touching description. I shall, 
however, only quote some lines of The Believe as 
taught by the Ploughman, and this principally to 
show the nature of the versification : 

Leve thou 011 our Lord God, that all the world wroughte ; believe. 

Holy heaven upon high wholly he formed; 

And is almighty himself over all his workes ; 

.vnd wrought as his will was, the world and the heaven ; 

And on gentle Jesus Christ, engendered of himselven, 

His own only Son, Lord over all y-knowen. 

* % * * * 

With thorn y-crowned, crucified, and on the cross died ; 
And sythen his blessed body was in a stone buried ; after that. 

And deseended adown to the dark belle, 
And fetched out our forefathers ; and they full fain weren. 
The third day readily, himself rose from death, 
And on a stone there he stood, he stey up to heaven, where: asa 

Here there is no rhyme. There is measure — a 
dance-movement in the verse ; and likewise, in most of 
the lines, what was essential to Anglo-Saxon verse — 
three or more words beginning with the same sound. 
This is somewhat of the nature of rhyme, and was all 
our Anglo-Saxon forefathers had of the kind. Their 
Norman conquerors brought in rhyme, regularity 
of measure, and division into stanzas, with main- 
refinements of versification now regarded, with some 
justice and a little more injustice, as peurilities. 
Strange as it may seem, the peculiar rhythmic move- 
ment of the Anglo-Saxon verse is even yet the most 
popular of all measures. Its representative is now 
that kind of verse which is measured not by the 


number of syllables, but by the number of accented 
syllables. The bulk of the nation is yet Anglo- 
Saxon in its blind poetic tastes. 

Before taking my leave of this mode, I would give 
one fine specimen from another poem, lately printed, 
for the first time in full, from Bishop Percy's manu- 
script. It may chronologically belong to the begin- 
ning of the next century : its proper place in my 
volume is here. It is called Death and Liffc. Like 
Langlancfs poem, it is a vision ; but, short as it is in 
comparison, there is far more poetry in it than in 
Piers Plowman. Life is thus described : 

She was brighter of her blee * than was the bright sun ; 
Her rudd 2 redder than the rose that on the rises hangeth ; 
Meekly smiling with her mouth, and merry in her looks; 
Ever laughing for love, as she like would. 

Everything bursts into life and blossom at her 

And the grass that was grey greened belive. forthwith. 

But the finest passage is part of Life's answer to 
Death, who has been triumphing over her : 

How didst thou joust at Jerusalem, with Jesu, my Lord, 

AVhere thou deemedst his death in one day's time ! judgedst. 

There wast thou shamed and shent and stripped for aye ! rebuked. 

When thou saw the king come with the cross on his shoulder, 

On the top of Calvary thou earnest him against ; 

Like a traitor untrue, treason thou thought ; 

Thou laid upon my liege lord loathful hands, 

Sithen beat him on his body, and buffeted him rightly, then. 

Till the railing red blood ran from his sides ; pouring down. 

1 Complexion. - Ruddiness — complexion. 3 Twig. 


Sith rent him on the rood with full red wounds : 

To all the woes that him wasted, I wot not few, 

Then deemedst (him) to have been 'lead, and dressed for ever. 

But, Death, how didst thou then, with all thy derffe words, 

When thou pricked at his pap with the point of a spear, 

And touched the tabernacle of his true heart, 

Where my bower was bigged to abide for ever? 

When the glory of his Godhead glinted in thy face, 

Then wast thou feared of this fare in thy false heart ; affair. 

Then thou hied into helbhole to hide thee belive ; at one e. 

Thy falchion flew out of thy fist, so fa^t thou thee hied ; 

Thou durst not blush once back, for better or worse, 

But drew thee down full in that deep hell, 

And bade them bar bigly Belzebub his gates. greatly, sft 

Then thou told them tidings, that teened them sore ; grieved. 

How that king came to kithen his strength, 

And how she 1 had beaten thee on thy bent, 2 and thy brand taken, 

With everlasting life that longed him till. belonged to Jinn. 

When Life has ended her speech to Death, she- 
turns to her own followers and says : — 

Therefore be not abashed, my barnes so dear, children. 

Of her falchion so fierce, nor of her fell words. 

She hath no might, nay, no means, no more you to grieve, 

Nor on your comely corses to clap once her hands. 

I shall look you full lively, and latch full well, search for: lay hold oj. 

And keere ye further of this kithe, 3 above the clear 

I now turn from those poems of national scope and 
wide social interest, bearing their share, doubtless, in 
the growth of the great changes that showed them- 
selves at length more than a century after, and from 
the poem I have just quoted of a yet wider human 
interest, to one of another tone, springing from the 
grief that attends love, and the aspiration born of the 

1 Life ': . — T think she should be he. '-' Field. 

J " Carry you beyond this region.'' 

iv. D 


grief. It is, nevertheless, wide in its scope as the 
conflict between Death and Life, although dealing 
with the individual and not with the race. The 
former poems named of Pierce Ploughman are the 
cry of John the Baptist in the English wilderness ; 
this is the longing of Hannah at home, having left 
her little son in the temple. The latter seems a 
poorer matter; but it is an easier thing to utter 
grand words of just condemnation, than, in the silence 
of the chamber, or with the well-known household- 
life around, forcing upon the consciousness only the 
law of things seen, to regard with steadfastness the 
blank left by a beloved form, and believe in the 
unseen, the marvellous, the eternal. In the midst 
of "the light of common day," with all the per- 
sistently common things pressing upon the de- 
spairing heart, to hold fast, after what fashion may 
be possible, the vanishing song that has changed its 
key, is indeed a victory over the flesh, however 
childish the forms in which the faith may embody 
itself, however weak the logic with which it may 
defend its intrenchments. 

The poem which has led me to make these re- 
marks is in many respects noteworthy. It is very 
different in style and language from any I have 
yet given. There was little communication to blend 
the different modes of speech prevailing in different 
parts of the country. It belongs, 1 according to 
students of English, to the Midland dialect of the 

■ !Or the knowledge of this poem I am indebted to the Early Eng- 
lish Text Society, now printing so many valuable manuscripts. 


fourteenth century. The author is beyond con- 

It is not merely the antiquity of the language that 
causes its difficulty, but the accumulated weight of 
artistically fantastic and puzzling requirements which 
the writer had laid upon himself in its composition. 
The nature of these I shall be enabled to show by 
printing the first twelve lines almost as they stand 
in the manuscript. 

Perle plesaunte to prynces pave, 
To clanly clos in golde so clere ! 
Cute of oryent I hardyly save, 
Ne proued I neuer her precios pere; 
So round e, so reken in vche araye, 
So smal, so smothe her sydes were ! 
Quere-so-euer I iugged gemmes gaye, 
I sette hyr sengelcy in synglure : 
Alias ! I leste hyr in on erbere, 
Thurh gresse to grounde hit fro me yot ; 
I dewyne for-dolked of luf daungere, 
Of that pryuy pcrle with-outen spot. 

Here it will be observed that the Norman mode — 
that of rhymes — is employed, and that there is a far 
more careful measure in the line that is found in the 
poem last quoted. But the rhyming is carried to 
such an excess as to involve the necessity of constant 
invention of phrase to meet its requirements — a 
fertile source of obscurity. The most difficult form 
of stanza in respect of rhyme now in use is the 
Spenserian, in which, consisting of nine lines, four 
words rhyme together, three words, and two won 
But the stanza in the poem before us consists o{ 
twelve lines, six of which, two of which, four 

D 2 


which, rhyme together. This we should count hard 
enough ; but it does not nearly exhaust the tyranny 
of the problem the author has undertaken. I have 
already said that one of the essentials of the poetic 
form in Anglo-Saxon was the commencement of 
three or more words in the line with the same 
sound: this peculiarity he has exaggerated: every line 
has as many words as possible commencing with the 
same sound. In the first line, for instance, — and it 
must be remembered that the authors line is much 
shorter than the Anglo-Saxon line, — there are four 
words beginning with p; in the second, three begin- 
ning with cl 9 and so on. This, of course, necessitates 
much not merely of circumlocution, but of con- 
trivance, involving endless obscurity. 

He has gone on to exaggerate the peculiarities of 
Norman verse as w r ell ; but I think it better not to 
run the risk of wearying my reader by pointing out 
more of his oddities. I will now betake myself to 
what is far more interesting as well as valuable. 

The poem sets forth the grief and consolation of a 
father who has lost his daughter. It is called The 
Pearl. Here is a literal rendering, line for line, into 
modern English words, not modern English speech, 
of the stanza which I have already given in its original 
form : 

Pearl pleasant to prince's pleasure, 
Most clean!}- closed in gold so clear ! 

Out of the Orient, I boldly say, 

T never proved her precious equal; 
So round, so beautiful in every point ! 

So small, so smooth, her Sides were ! 


Wheresoever I judged gemmes gay 

I set her singly in singlem 

Alas : I lost her in an arbour ; 

Through the grass to the ground it from me went. 

I pine, sorely wounded by dangerous love 

( )i" that especial pearl without spot. 

The father calls himself a jeweller ; the pearl is his 
daughter, lie has lost the pearl in the grass; it has 
gone to the ground, and he cannot find it ; that is, 
his daughter is dead and buried. Perhaps the most 
touching line is one in which he says to the grave : 

O moul, thou marrez a myry mele. 
(O mould, thou marrest a merry talk. ) 

The poet, who is surely the father himself, cannot 
always keep up the allegory ; his heart burns holes in 
it constantly ; at one time he says she> at another 
*/, and, between the girl and the pearl, the poem is 
bewildered. But the allegory helps him out with 
what he means notwithstanding ; for although the 
highest aim of poetry is to say the deepest things 
in the simplest manner, humanity must turn from 
mode to mode, and try a thousand, ere it finds the 
best. The individual, in his new endeavour to make 
M the word cousin to the deed," must take up the 
forms his fathers have left him, and add to them, if 
he may, new forms of his own. In both the great 
revivals of literature, the very material of poetry was 

The father falls asleep on his child's grave, and has 
a dream, or rather a vision, of a country where every- 
thing — after the childish imagination which invents 


differences instead of discovering harmonies — is super- 
naturally beautiful : rich rocks with a gleaming glory, 
crystal cliffs, woods with blue trunks and leaves of 
burnished silver, gravel of precious Orient pearls, form 
the landscape, in which are delicious fruits, and birds 
of flaming colours and sweet songs : its loveliness no 
man with a tongue is worthy to describe. He comes 
to the bank of a river : 

Swinging sweet the water did sweep 
With a whispering speech flowing adown ; 
(Wyth a rownande rourde raykande aryght) 

and the stones at the bottom were shining like stars. 
It is a noteworthy specimen of the mode in which 
the imagination works when invention is dissociated 
from observation and faith. But the sort of way in 
which some would improve the world now, if they 
might, is not so very far in advance of this would-be 
glorification of Nature. The barest heath and sky 
have lovelinesses infinitely beyond the most gorgeous 
of such phantasmagoric idealization of her beauties ; 
and the most wretched condition of humanity strug- 
gling for existence contains elements of worth and 
future development inappreciable by the philanthropy 
that would elevate them by cultivating their self-love. 
At the foot of a crystal cliff, on the opposite side 
of the river, which he cannot cross, he sees a maiden 
sitting, clothed and crowned with pearls, and wearing 
one pearl of surpassing wonder and spotlcssness 
upon her breast. I now make the spelling and forms 
of the words as modern as I may, altering the text 
no further. 



"O pearl/' quoth I, "in perles pight, 
Art thou my pearl that I have plained? 
Regretted by myn one, on night ? 
Much longing have I for thee layned 

Since into grass thou me a-glyghte ; 
Pensive, payred, I am for-pained, 1 
And thou in a life of liking light 
In Paradise-earth, of strife unstrained ! 
What wyrde hath hither my jewel vavned, 
And done me in this del and great danger? 
Fro we in twain were towen and twayned, 
I have been a joyless jeweller." 

That jewel then in gemmes gente, 
Vered up her vyse with even gray, 
Set on her crown of pearl orient, 
And soberly after then gan she say : 

" Sir, ye have your tale myse-tente, 
To say your pearl is all away, 
That is in coffer so comely clente 
As in this garden gracious gay, 
Herein to lenge for ever and play, 
There mys nor mourning come never — here, 
Here was a forser for thee in faye, 
If thou wert a gentle jeweller. 

" But jeweller gente, if thou shalt lose 
Thy joy for a gem that thee was lef, 
Me thinks thee put in a mad purpose, 
And busiest thee about a reason bref. 
For that thou lostest was but a rose, 
That flowered and failed as kynd hit gef. 
Now through kind of the chest that it gan close, 
To a pearl of price it is put in pref ; 2 
And thou hast called thy wyrde a thef, 
That ought of nought has made thee, clear ! 
Thou blamest the bote of thy mischef : 
Thou art no kynde jeweller." 

pitched^ dressed. 

D ton Died. 

by myself. 


didst glide from me. 

pined away, 

bright pleasure. 

7/ //tortured with strife. 

destiny : carried oft'. 


since: pulled: divided. 

turned : face. 




where: wrong. 

strong-box : faith. 

had left thee. 

poor object. 

7i at /i re gave it. 

doom, fate: theft. 

something of nothing 
remedy: hurt. 
natural^ reasonable. 

1 The for here is only an intensive. 

2 Pref \s proof Put i/i pref seems to stand for something more than 
being tested. . Might it not mean. proved to be a pearl of p> . 


When the father pours out his gladness at the 
sight of her, she rejoins in these words : 

" I hold that jeweller little to praise 

That loves well that he sees with eye ; 

And much to blame, and uncortoyse, uneourteous. 

That leves our Lord would make a lie, believes. 

That lelly hyghte your life to raise who truly promised. 

Though fortune did your flesh to die ; caused. 

To set his words full westernays 1 

That love no thing but ye it syghe ! see. 

And that is a point of surquedrie, presumption. 

That each good man may evil beseem, ill become. 

To leve no tale be true to tryghe, trust in. 

But that his one skill may deme." 2 

Much conversation follows, the glorified daughter 
rebuking and instructing her father. He prays for a 
sight of the heavenly city of which she has been 
speaking, and she tells him to walk along the bank 
until he comes to a hill. In recording what he saw 
from the hill, he follows the description of the New 
Jerusalem given in the Book of the Revelation. He 
sees the Lamb and all his company, and with them 
again his lost Pearl. But it was not his prince's plea- 
sure that he should cross the stream ; for when his eyes 
and ears were so filled with delight that he could no 
longer restrain the attempt, he awoke out of his dream. 

My head upon that hill was laid 

There where my pearl to grounde strayed. 

I wrestled and fell in great affray, fear. 

And sighing in myself I said, 

"Now all hi- to thai prince's paye." pleasure, 

1 A word acknowledged to he obscure. Mr. Morris suggests on the 

left //and, as nnbelieved. 

- " Except that which his sole wit may judge." 


After this, he holds him to that prince's will, and 
yearns after no more than he grants him. 

" As in water face is to face, so the heart of man." 
Out of the far past comes the cry of bereavement 
mingled with the prayer for hope : we hear, and lo ! 
it is the cry and the prayer of a man like ourselves. 

From the words of the greatest man of his age, 
let me now gather two rich blossoms of utterance, 
presenting an embodiment of religious duty and 
aspiration, after a very practical fashion. I refer to 
two short lyrics, little noted, although full of wisdom 
and truth. They must be accepted as the conclusions 
of as large a knowledge of life in diversified mode as 
ever fell to the lot of man. 


Fly from the press, and dwell with soothfastness ; truthfulness. 
Suffice l unto thy good, though it be small ; 
For hoard hath hate, and climbing fickleness ;- 
Praise hath envy, and weal i.^ blent over all. 3 
Savour 4 no more than thee behove shall. 

well thyself that other folk shalt rede ; counsel. 

And truth thee shall deliver — it is no drede, there is no doubt. 

Paine thee not each crooked to redress, every crooked th, 

In trust of her that turneth as a ball : Fortune. 

Great rest standeth in little busi-ness. 

Hew are also to spurn against a nail ; nail — to kick </, 

Strive not as doth a crocke with a wall. ricks. 

Deme thyself that demest others' deed; 

truth thee shall deliver— it is no drede. 

Be equal to thy possessions : " M fit thy desires to thy means." 

-' "Ambition has uncertainty." We use the word ticklish still. 

:; " Is mingled everywhere." 

4 To relish, to like. " Desire no more than is fitting for thee." 



That thee is sent receive in buxomness : submission. 

The wrestling of this world asketh a fall. tempts destruction. 

Here is no home, here is but wilderness : 

Forth, pilgrim, forth ! — beast, out of thy stall ! 

Look up on high, and thanke God of 1 all. 

Waive thy lusts, and let thy ghost - thee lead, 

And truth thee shall deliver — it is no drede. 

This needs no comment. Even the remark that 
every line is worth meditation may well appear 
superfluous. One little fact only with regard to the 
rhymes, common to this and the next poem, and 
usual enough in Norman verse, may be pointed out, 
namely, that every line in the stanza ends with the 
same rhyme-sound as the corresponding line in each 
of the other stanzas. A reference to either of the 
poems will at once show what I mean. 

The second is superior, inasmuch as it carries one 
thought through the three stanzas. It is entitled 
A Baladc made by Cltaitccr, teaching what is gcntil- 
7icsse y or whom is ivorthy to be called gent ill. 

The first stock-father of gentleness — 
What man desireth gentle for to be 

Must follow his trace, and all his wittes dress 
Virtue to love and vices for to flee ; 
For unto virtue longeth dignity, 

And not the reverse falsely dare I deem, 1 * 

All wear he mitre, crown, or diadem. 

The first stock was full of righteousness ; 

True of his word, sober, piteous, and free ; 
Clean of his ghost, and Loved busi-ness, 

Against the vice of sloth in honesty; 

ancestor of the race of 
[the gentle. 

track, footsteps : apply. 


although he wear, 
the progenitor, 

pure in his spirit. 

" For. 

- " Let thy spiritual and not thine animal nature guide thee." 
•"And I dare not falsely judge the reverse." 



And but his heir love virtue as did he, ex 

lie is not gentle, though he rich seem, 
All wear he mitre, crown, or diadem. 

Vicesse may well be heir to old Richesse, Vice: Riches. 

But there may no man, as men may well 
Bequeath his heir his virtue's nobleness ; 

That is appropried unto no degree, rank. 

But U> the first father in majesty, 
That maketli his heires them that him queme, please him. 
All wear he mitre, crown, or diadem. 

I can come to no other conclusion than that by the 
first stock-father Chaucer means our Lord Jesus. 



After the birth of a Chaucer, a Shakspere, or a 
Milton, it is long before the genial force of a nation 
can again culminate in such a triumph : time is required 
for the growth of the conditions. Between the birth 
of Chaucer and the birth of Shakspere, his sole 
equal, a period of more than two centuries had to 
elapse. It is but small compensation for this, that 
the more original, that is simple, natural, and true 
to his own nature a man is, the more certain is he to 
have a crowd of imitators. I do not say that such 
are of no use in the world. They do not indeed 
advance art, but they widen the sphere of its 
operation ; for many will talk with the man who 
know nothing of the master. Too often intending 
but their own glory, they point the way to the 
source of it, and are straightway themselves for- 

Very little of the poetry of the fifteenth century is 
worthy of a different fate from that which has befallen 
it. Possibly the Wars of the Roses may in some 
measure account for the barrenness of the time ; but 


I do not think they will explain it. In the midst of 

the commotions of the seventeenth century we find 
Milton, the only English poet of whom we are yet 
sure as worthy of being named with Chaucer and 

It is in quality, however, and not in quantity that 
the period is deficient. It had a good many writers 
of poetry, some of them prolific. John Lydgate, the 
monk of Bury, a great imitator of Chaucer, was the 
principal of these, and wrote an enormous quantity 
of verse. We shall find for our use enough as it 
were to keep us alive in passing through this desert to 
the Paradise of the sixteenth century — a land indeed 
flowing with milk and honey. For even in the desert 
of the fifteenth are spots luxuriant with the rich 
grass of language, although they greet the eye 
with few flowers of individual thought or graphic 

Rather than give portions of several of Lydgate's 
poems, I will give one entire — the best I know. It 
is entitled, Thonke God of allc} 

Thank God for All. 

By a way wandering as I went, 

Well sore I sorrowed, for sighing sad ; 

Of hard haps that I had hent 

Mourning me made almost mad ;- 

1 A poem so like this that it may have been written immed;. 
after reading it, is attributed to Robert Henryson, the Scotch poet. It 
e same refrain to every verse as Lydgate's. 

1 " Mourning for mishaps that I had caught made me almost mad." 



Till a letter all one me lad, 1 
That well was written on a wall, 

A blissful word that on I rad, 2 
That alway said, ' Thank God for 3 all. ' 

And yet I read furthermore 4 — 

Full good intent I took there till : 5 
Christ may well your state restore ; 

Nought is to strive against his will ; it is useless. 

He may us spare and also spill : 
Think right well we be his thrall. slaves. 

What sorrow we suffer, loud or still, 
Alway thank God for all. 

Though thou be both blind and lame, 

Or any sickness be on thee set, 
Thou think right well it is no shame — think thou. 

The grace of God it hath thee gret. 6 

In sorrow or care though ye be knit, snared. 

And worldes weal be from thee fall, fallen. 

I cannot say thou mayst do bet, better. 

But alway thank God for all. 

Though thou wield this world's good, 

And royally lead thy life in rest, 
Well shaped of bone and blood, 

None the like by east nor west ; 

Think God thee sent as him lest ; as it pleased him. 

Riches turneth as a ball ; 

Tn all manner it is the best in errrv condition. 

Alway to thank God for all. 

If thy good beginneth to pass, 

And thou wax a poor man, 
Take good comfort and bear good face, 

And think on him that all good wan ; didwin. 

" Led me all one :" "broughtme back to peace, unity, harmony. "(?) 

" That I read on (it)." 

Of iii the original, as in the title. 

Does this mean by contemplation on it? 

" 1 paid good attention to it." 

" Greeted thee " — in the very affliction 


Christ himself forsooth began — 
He may renew both bower and hall : 

No better counsel I ne kan am capable of. 

But alway thank God for all. 

Think on Job that was so rich : 

He waxed poor from day to day ; 
His beastes died in each ditch ; 

His cattle vanished all away ; 

He was put in poor array, 
Neither in purple nor in pall, 

But in simple weed, as clerkes say, clothes : learned men. 
And alway he thanked God for all. 

For Christes love so do we ;* 

He may both give and take ; 
In what mischief that we in be, whatever troubl 

He is mighty enough our sorrow to slake. [be in. 

Full good amends he will us make, 
And we to him cry or call : if. 

What grief or woe that do thee thrall, - 
Vet alway thank God for all. 

Though thou be in prison cast, 

Or any distress men do thee bede, 
For Christes love yet be steadfast, 

And ever have mind on thy creed ; 

Think he faileth us never at need, 
The dearworth duke that deem us shall ; :i 

When thou art sorry, thereof take heed, 4 
And alway thank God for all. 

Though thy friendes from thee fail, 

And death by rene hend 5 their life, 
Why shouldest thou then weep or wail ? 

It is nought against God to strive : it is u 

"" For Christ's love let us do the same." 
-' "' Whatever grief or woe enslaves thee." But thrall is a blunder, for 
the word ought to have rhymed with make. 
* "The precious leader that shall judge us." 
4 " When thou art in sorry plight, think o\ this." 

14 And death, beyond renewal, lay hold upon their life." 


Himself maked botli man and wife — 
To his bliss he bring us all : may he bring. 

However thou thole or thrive, suffer. 

Alway thank God for all. 

What diverse sonde 1 that God thee send, 

Here or in any other place, 
Take it with good intent ; 

The sooner God will send his grace. 

Though thy body be brought full base, low. 

Let not thy heart adown fall, 

But think that God is where he was, 
And alway thank God for all. 

Though thy neighbour have world at will, 

And thou far'st not so well as he, 
Be not so mad to think him ill, wish. \?) 

For his wealth envious to be : 

The king of heaven himself can see 
Who takes his sonde, 2 great or small ; 

Thus each man in his degree, 
I rede thanke God for all. counsel. 

For Cristes love, be not so wild, 

But rule thee by reason within and without ; 
And take in good heart and mind 

The sonde that God sent all about ; the gospel. (?) 

Then dare I say withouten doubt, 
That in heaven is made thy stall. /"lace, seal, room. 

Rich and poor that low will lowte, bow. 

Alway thank God for all. 

I cannot say there is much poetry in this, but there 
is much truth and wisdom. There is the finest 
poetry, however, too, in the line — I give it now 
letter for letter: — 

But think thai God ys ther lie was. 

1 Sending^ message: "whatever varying decree God sends thee." 
- lk Receives his messacre •" "accents his will/' 

4 Receives his message :" " accepts his will, 



There is poetry too in the line, if I interpret it rightly 
as intending the gospel — 

The sonde that God sent al abowte. 

I shall now make a few extracts from poems of the 
same century whose authors are unknown. 1 A good 
many such are extant. With regard to the similarity 
of those I choose, I would remark, that not only will 
the poems of the same period necessarily resemble 
each other, but, where the preservation of any has 
depended upon the choice and transcription of one 
person, these will in all probability resemble each 
other yet more. Here are a few verses from a hymn 
headed The Sweetness of Jesus : — 


If I for kindness should love my kin, 

Then me thinketh in my thought 
By kindly skill I should begin 

At him that hath me made of nought ; 
His likeness he set my soul within, 

And all this world for me hath wrought ; 
A- father he fundid my love to win, set about. 

For to heaven lie hath me brought. 

natural reasons. 
\Kind is nature, 
by natural judgment. 

( )ur brother and sister he is by skill, 

for he so said, and lend us that lore, 
That whoso wrought his bather's will, 

brethren and sisters to him they wore. 
My kind also he took ther-lille : 

Full truly trust I him therefore 
That lie will never let me spill, 

but with his mercy salve my --ore. 


tan 'Jit. 

my nature also hi 

{ ft r i 

1 Recently published by the Early English Text Society. 
S.L. iv. K 


With lovely lore his works to fill, fulfil. 

Well ought I, wretch, if I were kind — natural. 
Night and day to work his will, 

And ever have that Lord in mind. 
But ghostly foes grieve me ill, spiritual. 

And my frail flesh maketh me blind ; 
Therefore his mercy I take me till, betake me to. 

For better bote can I none find. aid. 

In my choice of stanzas I have to keep in view 
some measure of completeness in the result. These 
poems, however, are mostly very loose in structure. 
This, while it renders choice easy, renders closeness 
of unity impossible. 

From a poem headed — again from the last line of 
each stanza — Be my comfort, Clirist Jesus, I choose 
the following four, each possessing some remarkable 
flavour, tone, or single touch. Note the alliteration 
in the lovely line, beginning "Bairn y-born." The 
whole of the stanza in which we find it, sounds so 
strangely fresh in the midst of its antiquated tones, 
that we can hardly help asking whether it can be 
only the quaintness of the expression that makes the 
feeling appear more real, or whether in very truth 
men were not in those days nearer in heart, as well 
as in time, to the marvel of the Nativity. 

In the next stanza, how oddly the writer forgets 
that Jesus himself was a Jew, when, embodying the 
detestation of Christian centuries in one line, he says, 
And tormented with many a Jew ! 

In the third stanza, I consider the middle quatrain, 
that is, the four lines beginning " Out of this world," 
perfectly grand. 


The oddness of the last line but one of the fourth 
stanza is redeemed by the wonderful reality it gives 
to the faith of the speaker : " See my sorrow, and 
say Ho ! " stopping it as one would call after a man 
and stop him. 

Jesus, thou art wisdom of wit, 

Of thy Father full of might ! 
Man's soul — to save it, 

In poor apparel thou wert pight. 
Jesus, thou wert in cradle knit, 

In weed wrapped both day and night ; 
In Bethlehem bom, as the gospel writ, 

With angels' song, and heaven-light. 
Bairn y-born of a beerde bright, 1 

Full courteous was thy comely cus : 
Through virtue of that sweet light, 

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus. 

Jesus, that wert of yearis young, 

Fair and fresh of hide and hue, 
When thou wert in thraldom throng, 

And tormented with many a Jew, 
When blood and water were out-wrung, 

For beating was thy body blue ; 
As a clot of clay thou wert for-clong, 

So dead in trough then men thee threw. 
But grace from thy grave grew : 

Thou rose up quick comfort to us. 
For her love that this counsel knew, 

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus. 

is, soothfast God and man, 
Two kinds knit in one person, 
The wonder-work that thou began 
Thou hast fulfilled in flesh and bone. 


pitched, placed, dressed. 
originally, dress oj any kind. 






1 " Child born of a bright lady.'' 
originally : thence comes our bride. 



Out of this world wightly thou wan, thou didst win, or make thy 

Lifting up thyself alone ; \™ay, powerfully. 

For mightily thou rose and ran 

Straight unto thy Father on throne. 
Now dare man make no more moan — 

For man it is thou wroughtest thus, 
And God with man is made at one ; 

So be my comfort, Christ Jesus. 

Jesu, my sovereign Saviour, 

Almighty God, there ben no mo : there are no more — thou art 

Christ, thou be my governor ; [all in aIL{ >} .) 

Thy faith let me not fallen fro. from 

Jesu, my joy and my succour, 

In my body and soul also, 
God, thou be my strongest food, the rhyme fails here. 

And wisse thou me when me is woe. think on ))ie. 
Lord, thou makest friend of foe, 

Let me not live in languor thus, 
But see my sorrow, and say now " Ho," 

And be my comfort, Christ Jesus. 

Of fourteen stanzas called RicJtard de Castrcs 
Prayer to Jcsits, I choose five from the latter half, 
where the prayer passes from his own spiritual neces- 
sities, very tenderly embodied, to those of others. It 
does our hearts good to see the clouded sun of prayer 
for oneself break forth in the gladness of blessed 
entreaty for all men, for them that make Him angry, 
for saints in trouble, for the country torn by war, for 
the whole body of Christ and its unit)'. After the 
stanza — 

Jesus, for the deadly tears 

That thou sheddest for my guilt, 
Ik-ar and speed my praye'rs 

And spare me that I be not spill ; 

tile best that is in the suppliant shines out thus: 


Jesu, for them I thee beseech 

That wrathen thee in any wise ; 
Withhold from them thy hand of wreche, vengeance* 

And let them live in thy service. 

I on, most comfort for to see 

Of thy saintis every one, 
Comfort them that careful be, 

And help them that be woe-begone. 

Jesu, keep them that be good, 

And amend them that have grieved thee; 

And send them fruits of earthly food, 
As each man needeth in his degree. 

Jesu, that art, withouten lees, lies. 

Almighty God in trinity, 
Cease these wars, and send us peace, 

With lasting love and charity. 

Jesu, that art the ghostly stone spiritual. 

Of all holy church in middle-erde, the world. 

Bring thy folds and flocks in one, 

And rule them rightly with one herd. 

We now approach the second revival of literature, 
preceded in England by the arrival of the art of 
printing ; after which we find ourselves walking in a 
morning twilight, knowing something of the authors 
as well as of their work. 

I have little more to offer from this century. There 
are a few religious poems by John Skelton, who was 
tutor to Henry VIII. But such poetry, though he 
was a clergyman, was not much in Skelton's manner 
of mind. We have far better of a similar sort already. 

A new sort of dramatic representation had by 
this time greatly encroached upon the old Miracle 
Plays. The fresh growth was called Morals or Moral 


Plays. In them we see the losing victory of invention 
over the imagination that works with given facts. No 
doubt in the Moral Plays there is more exercise of 
intellect as well as of ingenuity; for they consist of 
metaphysical facts turned into individual existences 
by personification, and their relations then dramatized 
by allegory. But their poetry is greatly inferior both 
in character and execution to that of the Miracles. 
They have a religious tendency, as everything moral 
must have, and sometimes they go even farther, as 
in one, for instance, called The Castle of Perseverance, 
in which we have all the cardinal virtues and all 
the cardinal sins contending for the possession of 
Humanum Genus, the Human Race being presented 
as a new-born child, who grows old and dies in the 
course of the play ; but it was a great stride in art 
when human nature and human history began again 
to be exemplified after a simple human fashion, in 
the story, that is, of real men and women, instead 
of by allegorical personifications of the analysed and 
abstracted constituents of them. Allegory has her 
place, and a lofty one, in literature ; but when her 
plants cover the garden and run to seed, Allegory 
herself is ashamed of her children : the loveliest 
among them are despised for the general obtrusive- 
ness of the family. Imitation not only brings 
the thing imitated into disrepute, but tends to de- 
stroy what original faculty the imitator may have 



POETS now began to write more smoothly — not a 
great virtue, but indicative of a growing desire for 
finish, which, in any art, is a great virtue. No doubt 
smoothness is often confounded with, and mistaken 
for finish ; but you might have a mirror-like polish 
on the surface of a statue, for instance, and yet the 
marble be full of inanity, or vagueness, or even vul- 
garity of result — irrespective altogether of its idea. 
The influence of Italian poetry reviving once more in 
the country, roused such men as Wyat and Surrey to 
polish the sound of their verses ; but smoothness, I 
repeat, is not melody, and where the attention paid to 
the outside of the form results in flatness, and, still 
worse, in obscurity, as is the case with both of these 
poets, little is gained and much is lost. 

Each has paraphrased portions of Scripture, but 
with results of little value; and there is nothing 
of a religious nature I care to quote from either, 
except these five lines from an epistle of Sir Thomas 
Wyat's : 

Thyself content with that is thee assigned, 
And use it well that is to thee allotted ; 


Then seek no more out of thyself to find 

The thing that thou hast sought so long before, 

For thou shalt feel it sticking in thy mind. 

Students of versification will allow me to remark 
that Sir Thomas was the first English poet, so far as I 
know, who used the terza rima, Dante's chief mode of 
rhyming : the above is too small a fragment to show 
that it belongs to a poem in that manner. It has never 
been popular in England, although to my mind it is 
the finest form of continuous rhyme in any language. 
Again, we owe his friend Surrey far more for being 
the first to write English blank verse, whether invented 
by himself or not, than for any matter he has left us 
in poetic shape. 

This period is somewhat barren of such poetry as 
we want. Here is a portion of the Fifty-first Psalm, 
translated amongst others into English verse by 
John Crokc, Master in Chancery, in the reign of 
Henry VIII. 

( )pen my lips first to confess 

My sin conceived inwardly ; 
And my mouth after shall express 

Thy laud and praises outwardly. 

If I should offer for my sin, 

( )i sacrifice do unto thee 
Of beast or fowl, I should begin 

To stir thy wrath more towards me. 

Offer we must for sacrifice 

A troubled mind with sorrow's smart : 

Canst thou refuse? Nay, nor despise 
The humble and the contrite heart. 


To us of Sion that be bum, 

If thou thy favour wilt renew, 
The broken sowle, the temple torn, tlircshold. 

The walls and all shall be made new. 

The sacrifice then shall we make 

Of justice and of pure intent ; 
And all things else thou wilt well take 

That we shall offer or present. 

In the works of George Gascoigne I find one poem 
fit for quoting here. He is not an interesting writer, 
and, although his verse is very good, there is little 
likelihood of its ever being read more than it is now. 
The date of his birth is unknown, but probably he 
was in his teens when Surrey was beheaded in the 
year 1547. He is the only poet whose style reminds 
me of his, although the wherefore will hardly be evi- 
dent from my quotation. It is equally flat, but more 
articulate. I need not detain my reader with remarks 
upon him. The fact is, I am glad to have something, 
if not " a cart-load of wholesome instructions," to cast 
into this Slough of Despond, should it be only to see 
it vanish. The poem is called 


You that have spent the silent night 

In sleep and quiet rest, 
And joy to see the cheerful light 

That riseth in the east ; 
Now clear your voice, now cheer your heart ;, 

Come help me now to sing ; 
Each willing wight come bear a part, 

To praise the heavenly King. 


And you whom care in prison keeps, 

Or sickness doth suppress, 
Or secret sorrow breaks your sleeps, 

Or dolours do distress ; 
Yet bear a part in doleful wise ; 

Yea, think it good accord, 
And acceptable sacrifice, 

Each sprite to praise the Lord. 

The dreadful night with darksomeness 

Had overspread the light, 
And sluggish sleep with drowsiness 

Had overpressed our might : 
A glass wherein you may behold 

Each storm that stops our breath, 
Our bed the grave, our clothes like mould, 

And sleep like dreadful death. 

Yet as this deadly night did last 

But for a little space, 
And heavenly day, now night is past, 

Doth shew his pleasant face ; 
So must we hope to see God's face 

At last in heaven on high, 
When we have changed this mortal place 

For immortality. 

This is not so bad, but it is enough. There are 
six stanzas more of it. I transcribe yet another, that 
my reader may enjoy a smile in passing. He is 
4< moralizing" the aspects of morning : 

The carrion crow, that loathsome beast, 

Which cries against the rain, 
Both for his hue and for the rest, 

The Devil resembleth plain ; 

And as with guns we kill the crow, 

For spoiling our relief, 
The Devil so must we overthrow, 

With gunshot of belief. 



So fares the wit, when it walks abroad to do its 
business without the heart that should inspire it. 
Here is one good stanza from his Dc Profundis : 

But thou art good, and hast of mercy store ; 

Thou not delight'st to see a sinner fall ; 

Thou hearkenest first, before we come to call ; 
Thine ears are set wide open evermore ; 
Before we knock thou comest to the door. 

Thou art more prest to hear a sinner cry, ready. 

Than he is quick to climb to thee on high. 
Thy mighty name be praised then alway : 
Let faith and fear 
True witness bear 
How fast they stand which on thy mercy stay. 

Here follow two of unknown authorship, belonging 
apparently to the same period. 


Why fearest thou the outward foe, 

When thou thyself thy harm dost feed ? 
Of grief or hurt, of pain or woe, 

Within each thing is sown the seed. 
So fine was never yet the cloth, 

No smith so hard his iron did beat, 
But th' one consumed was with moth, 

Th' other with canker all to-freate. fretted away. 

The knotty oak and wainscot old 

Within doth eat the silly worm ; 1 
Even so a mind in envy rolled 

Always within it self doth burn. 
Thus every thing that nature wrought. 

Within itself his hurt doth bear ! 
No outward harm need to be sought, 

Where enemies be within so near. 

1 In Chalmers' English Poets, from which I quote, it is setly-worme ; 
but I think this must be a mistake. Silly would here mean weak. 


Lest this poem should appear to any one hardly 
religious enough for the purpose of this book, I 
would remark that it reminds me of what our Lord 
says about the true source of defilement : it is what 
is bred in the man that defiles him. Our Lord him- 
self taught a divine morality, which is as it were the 
body of love, and is as different from mere morality 
as the living body is from the dead. 


The whole world lieth in the Evil One. 

Complain we may ; much is amiss ; 

Hope is nigh gone to have redress ; 
These days are ill, nothing sure is ; 

Kind heart is wrapt in heaviness. 

The stern is broke, the sail is rent, helm or rudder — the 

The ship is given to wind and wave ; [thing to steer with* 

All help is gone, the rock present, 

That will be lost, what man can save ? that which will be lost. 

When power lacks care and forceth not, careth. 

When care is feeble and may not, is not able. 

When might is slothful and will not, 

Weeds may grow where good herbs cannot. 

Wily is witty, brainsick is wise; wiliness is counted 

Truth is folly, and might is right ; [prudence. 

Words are reason, and reason is lies ; 
The bad is good, darkness is light. 

Order is broke in tilings of weight : 

Measure and mean who doth nor flee? who does not avoid 

Two things prevail, money and sleight ; [moderation? 

To seem IS better than to be. 

Folly and falsehood prate apace ; 

Truth under bushel is fain to creep ; 
Flattery is treble, pride sings the bass, 

The mean, the best part, scant doth peep. 


With floods and storms thus be we tost : 
Awake, good L«»nl, to thee we cry ; 

( >ur ship is almost sunk and lost ; 
Thy mercy help our misery. 

Man's strength is weak ; man's wit is dull ; 

Man's reason is blind these things t'amend: 
Thy hand, O Lord, of might is full — 

Awake betimes, and help us send. 

In thee we trust, and in no wight ; 

Save us, as chickens under the hen ; 
Our crookedness thou canst make right — 

Glory to thee for aye. Amen. 

The apprehensions of the wiser part of the nation 
have generally been ahead of its hopes. Every age 
is born with an ideal ; but instead of beholding that 
ideal in the future where it lies, it throws it into 
the past. Hence the lapse of the nation must ap- 
pear tremendous, even when she is making her best 



We have now arrived at the period of English history 
in every way fullest of marvel — the period of Eliza- 
beth. As in a northern summer the whole region 
bursts into blossom at once, so with the thought and 
feeling of England in this glorious era. 

The special development of the national mind 
with which we are now concerned, however, did not 
by any means arrive at its largest and clearest re- 
sult until the following century. Still its progress is 
sufficiently remarkable. For, while everything that 
bore upon the mental development of the nation 
must bear upon its poetry, the fresh vigour given 
by the doctrines of the Reformation to the sense of 
personal responsibility, and of immediate relation 
to God, with the grand influences, both literary 
and spiritual, of the translated, printed, and studied 
Bible, operated more immediately upon its devotional 

Towards the close of the sixteenth century, we 
begin to find such verse as I shall now present to 
my readers. Only I must first make a few remarks 


upon the great poem of the period : I mean, of 
course, The Faerie Queen. 

I dare not begin to set forth after any fashion the 
profound religious truth contained in this poem ; 
for it would require a volume larger than this to set 
forth even that of the first book adequately. In this 
case it is well to remember that the beginning of 
comment, as well as of strife, is like the letting out 
of water. 

The direction in which the wonderful allegory of 
the latter moves may be gathered from the following 
stanza, the first of the eighth canto : 

Ay me ! how many perils do enfold 

The righteous man to make him daily fall ; 
Were not that heavenly grace doth him uphold, it understood. 

And steadfast Truth acquit him out of all ! 

Her love is firm, her care continual, 
So oft as he, through his own foolish pride 

Or weakness, is to sinful bands made thrall : 
Else should this Redcross Knight in bands have died, 
For whose deliverance she this Prince doth thither guide. 

Nor do I judge it good to spend much of my 
space upon remarks personal to those who have not 
been especially writers of sacred verse. When we 
come to the masters of such song, we cannot speak 
of their words without speaking of themselves ; 
but when in the midst of many words those of the 
kind we seek are few, the life of the writer does not 
justify more than a passing notice here. 

We know but little of Spenser's history : if we might 
know all, I do not fear that we should find anything 
to destroy the impression made by his verse — that 


he was a Christian gentleman, a noble and pure- 
minded man, of highest purposes and aims. 

His style is injured by the artistic falsehood of 
producing antique effects in the midst of modern feel- 
ing. 1 It was scarcely more justifiable, for instance, 
in Spenser's time than it would be in ours to use 
glitterand for glittering ; or to return to a large 
use of alliteration, three, four, sometimes even five 
words in the same line beginning with the same con- 
sonant sound. Everything should look like what it is : 
prose or verse should be written in the language of 
its own era. No doubt the wide-spreading roots of 
poetry gather to it more variety of expression than 
prose can employ ; and the very nature of verse will 
make it free of times and seasons, harmonizing many 
opposites. Hence, through its mediation, without 
discord, many fine old words, by the loss of which 
the language has grown poorer and feebler, might be 
honourably enticed to return even into our prose. 
But nothing ought to be brought back because it is 
old. That it is out of use is a presumptive argument 
that it ought to remain out of use : good reasons 
must be at hand to support its reappearance. I 
must not, however, enlarge upon this wide-reaching 
question ; for of the two portions of Spenser's verse 
which I shall quote, one of them is not at all, the 
other not so much as his great poem, affected with 
this whim. 

1 The first poem he wrote, a very fine one, The Shepheard's Calender, 

k so full of old and provincial words, that the educated people of his 
own time required a glossary to assist them in the reading of it. 


Thc first I give is a sonnet, one of eighty-eight 
which he wrote to his wife before their marriage. 
Apparently disappointed in early youth, he did not 
fall in love again, — at least there is no sign of it 
that I know, — till he was middle-aged. But then — 
woman was never more grandly wooed than was his 
Elizabeth. I know of no marriage-present worthy to 
be compared with the Epithalamion which he gave 
her " in lieu of many ornaments," — one of the most 
stately, melodious, and tender poems in the world, 
I fully believe. 

But now for the sonnet — the sixty-eighth of the 
A moretti : 

Most glorious Lord of Life ! that, on this day, 

Didst make thy triumph over death and sin. 

And having harrowed hell, didst bring aw ay 

Captivity thence captive, us to win : 

This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin ; 

And grant that we, for whom thou diddest die, 

Being with thy dear blood clean washed from sin, 

May live for ever in felicity ! 

And that thy love we weighing worthily, 

May likewise love thee for the same again ; 

And for thy sake, that all like dear didst buy, 

With love may one another entertain. 
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought : 
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught. 

Those who have never felt the need of the divine, 
entering by the channel of will and choice and 
prayer, for the upholding, purifying, and glorifying of 

that which itself first created human, will consider 
this poem untrue, having its origin in religious 
affectation. Others will think otherwise. 

S.L. IV. F 


The greater part of what I shall next quote is 
tolerably known even to those who have made little 
study of our earlier literature, yet it may not be 
omitted here. It is from An Hymnc of Heavenly 
Love, consisting of forty-one stanzas, written in 
what was called Rime Royal — a favourite with 
Milton, and, next to the Spenserian, in my opinion 
the finest of stanzas. Its construction will reveal 
itself. I take two stanzas from the beerinnin"" of the 
hymn, then one from the heart of it, and the rest 
from the close. It gives no feeling of an outburst of 
song, but rather of a brooding chant, most quiet in 
virtue %i the depth of its thoughtfulness. Indeed, 
all his rhythm is like the melodies of water, and I 
could quote at least three passages in which he 
speaks of rhythmic movements and watery pro- 
gressions together. His thoughts, and hence his 
words, flow like a full, peaceful stream, diffuse, with 
plenteousness unrestrained. 


Before this world's great frame, in which all things 
Are now contained, found any being place, 

Ere flitting Time could wag his eyas ■ wings 
About that mighty bound which doth embrace 
The rolling spheres, and parts their hours by space, 

That high eternal power, which now doth move 

In all these things, moved in itself by love. 

It loved itself, because itself was fair, 

For fair is loved ; and of itself begot 
Like to itself his eldest son and heir, 

Eternal, pure, and void of sinful blot, 

1 Eyas IS a young hawk, whose wings are not fully tledged. 

// 1 r MN OF UFA J r ENL Y LOl r E. 67 

The firstling of his joy, in whom no jot 
Of love's dislike or pride was to be found, 
Whom he therefore with equal honour crowned. 

( Hit of the bosom of eternal bliss, 

In which he reigned with his glorious Sire, 
He down descended, like a most demisse humble. 

And abject thrall, in flesh's frail attire, 

That he for him might pay sin's deadly hire, 
And him restore unto that happy state 
In which he >tood before his hapless fate. 

O blessed well of love ! O flower of grace ! 

O glorious Morning-Star! O Lamp of Light ! 
Most lively image of thy Father's face ! 

Eternal King of Glory, Lord of might ! 

Meek Lamb of God, before all worlds benight ! promised. 
How can we thee requite for all this good? 
Or what can prize that thy most precious blood? equal in value. 

Vet nought thou ask'st in lieu of all this love 

But love of us for guerdon of thy pain : 
Ay me ! what can us less than that behove P 1 

Had he required life of 2 us again, 

Had it been wrong to ask his own with gain? 
He gave us life, he it restored lost ; 
Then life were least, that us so little cost. 

But he our life hath left unto us free — 

Free that was thrall, and blessed that was banned ; 

Nor aught demands but that we loving be, [cur 

As he himself hath loved us aforehand, 
And bound thereto with an eternal band — 

1 lim first to love that us 3 so dearly bought, 

And next our brethren, to his image wrought. 

1 "What less than that is fitting?" 

- Ft r, even in Collier's edition, but certainly a blunder. 
;; ll'ds, in the editions ; clearly wrong. 
F 2 


Him first to love great right and reason is, 

Who first to us our life and being gave, 
Ami after, when we fared had amiss, 

Us wretches from the second death did save ; 

And last, the food of life, which now we have, 
Even lie himself, in his dear sacrament, 
To feed our hungry souls, unto us lent. 

Then next, to love our brethren that were made 
Of that self mould, and that self Maker's hand, 

That 1 we, and to the same again shall fade, 

Where they shall have like heritage of land, the same grave- 
However here on higher steps we stand ; [room. 

Which al>o were with selfsame price redeemed, 

That we, however, of us light esteemed. as. 

And were they not, yet since that loving Lord 

Commanded us to love them for his sake, 
Even for his sake, and for his sacred word, 

Which in his last bequest he to us spake, 

We should them love, and with their needs partake ; share 
Knowing that, whatsoe'er to them we give, [their needs. 

We give to him by whom we all do live. 

Such mercy he by his most holy rede instruction. 

Unto us taught, and to approve it true, 
Ensampled it by his most righteous <V-cC\, 

Shewing us mercy, miserable crew ! 

That we the like should to the wretches 2 shew, 
And love our brethren ; thereby to approve 
How much himself that loved us we love. 

Then rouse thyself, earth ! out of thy soil, 

In which thou wallowest like to filthy swine. 
And dost thy mind in dirty pleasures nioyle, defile. 

Unmindful of that dearest bold of thine; 

Lift up to him thy heavy clouded eyne, 
That thou this sovereign bounty mays! behold, 
And read through love his mercies manifold. 

1 "Of the same mould and hand as we." 

1 There was no contempt in the use of this word then. 

11 \ r MN OF HE A VENL V LO J/E. 69 

Begin from fust, where lie encradled was 

In simple cratch, wrapt in a wad of hay, a rack or crib % 

Between the toilful ox and humble ass ; 

And in what rags, and in what base array 

The glory of our heavenly riches lay, 
When him the silly, 3 shepherds came tosee, 
Whom greatest princes sought on lowest knee. 

From thence read on the story of his life, 

His humble carnage, his unfaulty ways, 
His cankered foes, his fights, his toil, his strife, 

His pains, his poverty, his sharp assays, temptations or trials \ 

Through which he passed his miserable days, 
Offending none, and doing good to all, 
Vet being maliced both by great and small. 

And look at last, how of most wretched wights 

He taken was, betrayed, and false accused ; 
How with most scornful taunts and fell despites 

He was reviled, disgraced, and foul abused ; 

How scourged, how crowned, how buffeted, how bruised; 
And, lastly, how 'twixt robbers crucified, 
With bitter wounds through hands, through feet, and side ! 

* ****** 

With sense whereof whilst so thy softened spirit 

Is inly touched, and humbled with meek zeal 
Through meditation of his endless merit, 

Lift up thy mind to th' author of thy weal, 

And to his sovereign mercy do appeal ; 
Learn him to love that loved thee so dear, 
And in thy breast Lis blessed image bear. 

With all thy heart, with all thy soul and mind, 

Thou must him love, and his behests embrace ; ommands. 

All other loves with which the world doth blind 

Weak fancies, and stir up affections base, 

Thou must renounce and utterly di>place, 
And give thyself unto him full and free, 
That full and freely gave himself to thee. 

Simple-hearted, therefore blessed ; like the German sdig* 


Thenceforth all world's desire will in thee die, 
And all earth's glory, on which men do gaze, 

Seem dust and dross in thy pure-sighted eye, 
Compared to that celestial beauty's blaze, 
Yv'hose glorious beams all fleshly sense do daze 

With admiration of their passing light, 

Blinding the eyes and lumining the sprite. 

Then shalt thy ravished soul inspired be 

With heavenly thoughts Air above human skill, reason. 

And thy bright radiant eyes shall plainly see 
The Idea of his pure glory present still 
Before thy face, that all thy spirits shall fill 

With sweet enragement of celestial love, 

Kindled through sight of those fair things above. 

There is a companion to the poem of which these 
verses are a portion, called An Hymne of Heavenly 
Beautie, filled like this, and like two others on Beauty 
and Love, with Platonic forms both of thought and 
expression ; but I have preferred quoting a longer 
part of the former to giving portions of both. My 
reader will recognize in the extract a fuller force of 
intellect brought to bear on duty ; although it would 
be unwise to take a mind like Spenser's for a type 
of more than the highest class of the age. Doubt- 
less the division in the country with regard to many 
of the Church's doctrines had its part in bringing 
out and strengthening this tendency to reasoning 
which is so essential to progress. Where religion 
itself is not the most important thing with the indi- 
vidual, all reasoning upon it must indeed degenerate 
into strifes of words, vermiculate questions, as Lord 
Bacon calls them — such, namely, as like the hoarded 
manna reveal the character of the owner by breeding 


of worms — yet on no questions may the light of the 
candle of the Lord, that is, the human understanding, 

be cast with greater hope of discovery than on 
those of religion, those, namely, that bear upon man's 
relation to God and to his fellow. The most partial 
illumination of this region, the very cause of whose 
mystery is the height and depth of its truth, is of 
more awful value to the human being than perfect 
knowledge, if such were possible, concerning every- 
thing else in the universe ; while, in fact, in this 
very region, discover}' may bring with it a higher 
kind of conviction than can accompany the results 
of investigation in any other direction. In these 
grandest of all thinkings, the great men of this 
time showed a grandeur of thought worthy of their 
surpassing excellence in other noblest fields of 
human labour. They thought greatly because they 
aspired greatly. 

Sir Walter Raleigh was a personal friend of Ed- 
mund Spenser. They were almost of the same age, 
the former born in 1552, the latter in the following 
year. A writer of magnificent prose, itself full of 
religion and poetry both in thought and expression, 
he has not distinguished himself greatly in verse. 
There is, however, one remarkable poem fit for my 
purpose, which I can hardly doubt to be his. It 
is called Sir Walter Raleigtis Pilgrimage. The 
probability is that it was written just after his 
condemnation in 1603 — although man}' years 
passed before his sentence was carried into exe- 


Give me my scallop-shell ] of Quiet ; 
My staff of Faith to walk: upon ; 
My scrip of Joy, immortal diet ; 
My bottle of Salvation; 
My gown of Glory, hope's true gage ;' 
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage. 
Blood must be my body's balmer, — 
No other balm will there be given — 
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer, 
Travelleth towards the land of Heaven ; 
Over the silver mountains, 
Where spring the nectar fountains — 
There will I kiss 
The bowl of Bliss, 
And drink mine everlasting fill 
Upon every milken hill : 
My soul will be a-diy before, 
But after, it will thirst no more. 
Then by that happy blissful day, 
More peaceful pilgrims I shall see, 
That have cast off their rags of clay, 
And walk apparelled fresh like me : 
I'll take them first, 
To quench their thirst, 
And taste of nectar's suckets, sweet things — things 

At those clear wells [to suck. 

Where sweetness dwells, 
Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets. 
And when our bottles and all we 
Are filled with immortality, 
Then the blessed paths we'll travel, 
Strowed with mines thick as gravel. 
Ceilings of diamonds! sapphire floors ! 
High walls of coral, and pearly bowers ! — 
From thence to Heaven's bribeless hall, 
Where no corrupted voices brawl; 
No conscience molten into gold ; 
Xo forged accuser bought or sold ; 

1 A shell plentiful on the coast of Palestine, and worn by pilgrims 
io show that they had visited that country. 


No cause deferred ; no vain-spent journey ; 

For there Christ is the King's Attorney, 

Who pleads for all without degrees, irrespective of rank. 

And he hath angels, but no fees. 

And when the grand twelve million jury 

( )f our sins, with direful fury, 

'Gainst our souls black verdicts give, 

Christ pleads his death, and then we live. 

Be thou my speaker, taintless Pleader, 

Unblotted Lawyer, true Proceeder ! 

Thou giv'st salvation even for alms, — 

Not with a bribed lawyer's palms. 

And this is my eternal plea 

To him that made heaven, earth, and sea, 

That, since my flesh must die so soon, 

And want a head to dine next noon, — 

Just at the stroke, when my veins start and spread, 

Set on my soul an everlasting head : 

Then am I ready, like a palmer fit, 

To tread those blest paths which before I writ. 

Of death and judgment, heaven and hell 

Who oft doth think, must needs die well. 

This poem is a somewhat strange medley, with a 
confusion of figure, and a repeated failure in dignity, 
which is very far indeed from being worthy of 
Raleigh's prose. But it is very remarkable how 
wretchedly some men will show, who, doing their 
own work well, attempt that for which practice has 
not — to use a word of the time — enabled them. 
There is real power in the poem, however, and the 
confusion is far more indicative of the pleased success 
of an unaccustomed hand than of incapacity for 
harmonious work. Some of the imagery, especially 
the "crystal buckets," will suggest those grotesque 
drawings called Emblems, which were much in use 


before and after this period, and, indeed, were only 
a putting into visible shape of such metaphors and 
similes as some of the most popular poets of the time, 
especially Doctor Donne, indulged in ; while the pro- 
fusion of earthly riches attributed to the heavenly 
paths and the places of repose on the journey, may 
well recall Raleigh's own descriptions of South Ame- 
rican glories. Englishmen of that era believed in an 
earthly Paradise beyond the Atlantic, the wonderful 
reports of whose magnificence had no doubt a share 
in lifting the imaginations and hopes of the people 
to the height at which they now stood. 

There may be an appearance of irreverence in the 
way in which he contrasts the bribeless Hall of 
Heaven with the proceedings at his own trial, where 
he was browbeaten, abused, and, from the very 
commencement, treated as a guilty man by Sir 
Edward Coke, the king's attorney. He even puns 
with the words angels and fees. Burning from a 
sense of injustice, however, and with the solemnity of 
death before him, he could not be guilty of conscious 
irreverence, at least. But there is another remark I 
have to make with regard to the matter, which will 
bear upon much of the literature of the time: even 
the great writers of that period had such a delight 
n words, and such a command over them, that like 
their skilful horsemen, who enjoyed making their 
steeds show off the fantastic paces the)' had taught 
them, they played with the words as they passed 
through their hands, tossing them about as a jugglcr 
might his balls. But even herein the true master of 


speech showed his masterdom : his play must not be 
by-play; it must contribute to the truth of the idea 
which was taking form in those words. We shall see 
this more plainly when we come to transcribe some 
of Sir Philip Sidney's work. There is no irreverence 
in it. Nor can I take it as any sign of hardness that 
Raleigh should treat the visual image of his own 
anticipated death with so much coolness, if the writer 
of a little elegy on his execution, when Raleigh was 
fourteen years older than at the presumed date of 
the foregoing verses, describes him truly when he 
says : 

I saw in every stander-by 

Pale death, life only in thy eye. 

The following hymn is also attributed to Raleigh. 
If it has less brilliance of fancy, it has none of the 
faults of the preceding, and is far more artistic in 
construction and finish, notwithstanding a degree of 

Rise, oh my soul, with thy desires to heaven ; 

And with divinest contemplation use 
Thy time, where time's eternity is given ; 

And let vain thoughts no more thy thoughts abuse, 
But down in darkness let them lie : 
So live thy better, Let thy worse thoughts die ! 

And thou, my soul, inspired with holy flame, 
View and review, with most regardful eye, 

That holy cross, whence thy salvation came. 
On which thy Saviour and thy sin did die ! 
For in that sacred object is much pleasure, 
And in that Saviour is my life, my treasure. 


To thee, O Jesus, I direct my eyes ; 

To thee my hands, to thee my humble knees, 
To thee my heart shall offer sacrifice ; 

To thee my thoughts, who my thoughts only sees — 
To thee myself, — myself and all I give ; 
To thee I die ; to thee I only live ! 

See what an effect of stately composure quiet 
artistic care produces, and how it leaves the ear of 
the mind in a satisfied peace ! 

There are a few fine lines in the poem. The last 
two lines of the first stanza are admirable ; the last 
two of the second very weak. The last stanza is 
good throughout. 

But it would be very unfair to judge Sir Walter by 
his verse. His prose is infinitely better, and equally 
displays the devout tendency of his mind — a tendency 
common to all the great men of that age. The worst 
I know of him is the selfishly prudent advice he left 
behind for his son. No doubt he had his faults, but 
we must not judge a man even by what he says in 
an over-anxiety for the prosperity of his child. 

Another remarkable fact in the history of those 
great men is that they were all men of affairs. 
Raleigh was a soldier, a sailor, a discoverer, a politi- 
cian, as well as an author. His friend Spenser was 
first secretary to Lord Grey when he was Governor 
of Ireland, and afterwards Sheriff of Cork. lie has 
written a large treatise on the state of Ireland. But 
of all the men of the age no one was more variously 
gifted, or exercised those gifts in more differing 
directions, than the man who of them all was most in 
favour with queen, court, and people — Philip Sidney, 


I could write much to set forth the greatness, culture, 
balance, and scope of this wonderful man. Renowned 
over Europe for his person, for his dress, for his car- 
riage, for his speech, for his skill in arms, for his 
horsemanship, for his soldiership, for his statesman- 
ship, for his learning, he was beloved for his friend- 
ship, his generosity, his steadfastness, his simplicity, 
his conscientiousness, his religion. Amongst the 
lamentations over his death printed in Spenser's 
works, there is one poem by Matthew Royclon, a few 
verses of which I shall quote, being no vain eulogy. 
Describing his personal appearance, he says : 

A sweet, attractive kind of grace, 
A full assurance given by looks, 
Continual comfort in a face, 

The lineaments of Gospel books ! — 
I trow, that countenance cannot lie 
Who.^e thoughts are legible in the eye. 

Was ever eye did see that face, 

Was ever ear did hear that tongue, 
Was ever mind did mind his grace 
That ever thought the travel long ? 
But eyes and ears, and every thought. 
Were with his sweet perfections caught. 

His Arcadia is a book full of wisdom and beaut}-. 
None of his writings were printed in his lifetime ; 
but the Arcadia was for many years after his death 
one of the most popular books in the country. II is 
prose, as prose, is not equal to his friend Raleigh's, 
being less condensed and stately. It is too full of 
fancy in thought and freak in rhetoric to find now- 
a-days more than a very limited number of readers ; 


and a good deal of the verse that is set in it, is 
obscure and uninteresting, partly from some false 
notions of poetic composition which he and his friend 
Spenser entertained when young ; but there is often 
an exquisite art in his other poems. 

The first I shall transcribe is a sonnet, to which 
the Latin words printed below it might be prefixed 
as a title : Splendid is longum valedico nngis. 


Leave me, O love, which reachest but to dust ; 

And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things ; 
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust : 

What ever fades but fading pleasure brings. 
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might 

To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be ; 
Which breaks the clouds, and opens forth the light 

That doth both shine and give us sight to see. 
Oh take fast hold ; let that light be thy guide, 

In this small course which birth draws out to death ; 
And think how evil 1 becometh him to slide 

Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath. 
Then farewell, world ; thy uttermost I see : 
Eternal love, maintain thy life in me. 

Before turning to the treasury of his noblest verse, 
I shall give six lines from a poem in the Arcadia — 
chiefly for the sake of instancing what great questions 
those mighty men delighted in : 

What essence destiny hath ; if fortune be or no ; 
Whence our immortal souls to mortal earth do stow'-': 

1 Evil was pronounced almost as a monosyllable, and was at last 
contracted to ill, 

- "Come to fmd a place.' 1 The transitive verb stow means to put 
in a place : here it is used intransitively. 


What life it is, and how that all these lives do gather, 

With outward maker's force, or like an inward father. 

Such thoughts, me thought, I thought, and strained my single mind, 

Then void of nearer cares, the depth of things to find. 

Lord Bacon was not the only one, in such an age, 
to think upon the mighty relations of physics and 
metaphysics, or, as Sidney would say, " of naturall 
and supernaturall philosophie." For a man to do 
his best, he must be upheld, even in his speculations, 
by those around him. 

In the specimen just given, we find that our reli- 
gious poetry has gone down into the deeps. There 
are indications of such a tendency in the older times, 
but neither then were the questions so articulate, nor 
were the questioners so troubled for an answer. The 
alternative expressed in the middle couplet seems to 
me the most imperative of all questions — both for the 
individual and for the church : Is man fashioned by 
the hands of God, as a potter fashioneth his vessel ; 
or do we indeed come forth from his heart? Is 
power or love the making might of the universe ? 
He who answers this question aright possesses the 
key to all righteous questions. 

Sir Philip and his sister Mary, Countess of Pem- 
broke, made between them a metrical translation of 
the Psalms of David. It cannot be determined which 
are hers and which are his ; but if I may conclude 
anything from a poem by the sister, to which I shall 
by and by refer, I take those I now give for the 
brother's work. 

The souls of the following psalms have, in the 


version I present, transmigrated into fairer forms than 
I have found them occupy elsewhere. Here is a 
grand hymn for the whole world : Sing unto tJic 


Sing, and let your song be new. 

Unto him that never endeth ! 
Sing all earth, and all in you — 
Sing to God, and bless his name. 

Of the help, the health he sendeth, 
Day by day new ditties frame. 

Make each country know his worth : 

Of his acts the wondered story 
Paint unto each people forth. 
For Jehovah great alone, 

All the gods, for awe and glory, 
Far above doth hold his throne. 

For but idols, what are they 

Whom besides mad earth adoreth ? 
He the skies in frame did lay. 
Grace and honour are his guides ; 

Majesty his temple storeth ; 
Might in guard about him bides. 

Kindreds come ! Jehovah give — 

O give Jehovah all together, 
Force and fame whereso you live. 
Give his name the glory fit : 

Take your off rings, get you thither, 
Where he doth enshrined sit. 

Go, adore him in the place 

Where his pomp is most displayed. 
Earth, go with quaking pace, 
Go proclaim Jehovah king: 

St ay less world shall now be stayed ; 
Righteous doom his rule shall bring. 


Starry roof and earthy lloor, 

Sea, and all thy wideness yieldeth, 
Now rejoice, and leap, and roar. 
Leafy infants of the wood, 

Fields, and all that on you feedeth, 
I lance, O dance, at such a good ! 

For Jehovah cometh, lo ! 

Lo to reign Jehovah cometh ! 
Under whom you all shall go. 
He the world shall rightly guide — 

Truly, as a king becometh, 
For the people's weal provide. 

Attempting to give an ascending scale of excellence 
— I do not mean in subject but in execution — I now 
turn to the national hymn, God is our Refuge. 


God gives us strength, and keeps us sound — 

A present help when dangers call ; 
Then fear not we, let quake the ground, 

And into seas let mountains fall ; 

Yea so let seas withal 
In watery hills arise, 

As may the earthly hills appal 
With dread and dashing cries. 

For lo, a river, streaming joy, 

With purling murmur safely slides, 
That city washing from annoy, 

In holy shrine where God resides. 

God in her centre bides : 
What can this city shake ? 

God early aids and ever guides : 
Who can this city take? 

When nations go against her bent, 

And kings with siege her walls enround ; 

The void of air his voice doth rent, 

Earth fails their feet with melting ground. 

S.L. IV. Q 


To strength and keep us sound, 
The God of armies arms ; 

Our rock on Jacob's God we found, 
Above the reach of harms. 

O come with me, O come, and view 

The trophies of Jehovah's hand ! 
What wrecks from him our foes pursue ! 

How clearly he hath purged our land ! 

By him wars silent stand : 
He brake the archer's bow, 

Made chariot's wheel a fiery brand, 
And spear to shivers go. 

Be still, saith he; know, God am I ; 

Know I will be with conquest crowned 
Above all nations — raised high, 

High raised above this earthly round. 

To strength and keep us sound, 
The God of armies arms ; 

Our rock on Jacob's God we found, 
Above the reach of harms. 

" The God of armies arms " is a grand line. 

Now let us have a hymn of Nature — a far finer, I 
think, than either of the preceding : Praise waiteth 
for thee. 


Sion it is where thou art praised, 

Sion, O God, where vows they pay thee : 

There all men's prayers to thee raised, 
Return possessed of what they pray thee. 

There thou my sins, prevailing to my shame, 

Dost turn to smoke of saerifieing flame. 

Oh ! he of bliss is not deceived, disappointed. 

Whom chosen thou unto thee takest ; 
And whom into thy court received, 

Thou of thy checkrole ' number makes! : 

1 The list of servants then kept in large houses, the number of such 
being far greater than it is now. 


The dainty viands of thy sacred store 
Shall feed him so he shall not hunger more. 

From thence it is thy thieat'ning thunder — 

Lest we by wrong should be disgraced — 
Doth strike our foes with fear and wonder, 

O thou on whom their hopes are 'placed, 
Whom cither earth doth stedfastly sustain, 
Or cradle rocks the restless wavy plain. 

Thy virtue stays the mighty mountains, 

Girded with power, with strength abounding. 
The roaring dam of water)' fountains the "dam of fountains" 

Thy beck doth make surcease her sounding. [is the ocean. 

When stormy uproars toss the people's brain, 
That civil sea to calm thou bring'st again. political, as opposed to 

Where earth doth end with endless ending, 

All such as dwell, thy signs affright them ; 
And in thy praise their voices spending, 

Both houses of the sun delight them — 
Both whence he comes, when early he awakes, 
And where he goes, when evening rest he take-. 

Thy eye from heaven this land beholdeth, 

Such fruitful dews down on it raining, 
That storehouse-like her lap enfoldeth 

Assured hope of ploughman's gaining : 
Thy flowing streams her drought doth temper so, 
That buried seed through yielding grave doth grow. 

1 )runk is each ridge of thy cup drinking ; 

Each clod relenteth at thy dressing ; groweth soft. 

Thy cloud-borne waters inly sinking, 

Fair spring sprouts forth, blest with thy blessing. 
The fertile year i> with thy bounty crowned ; 
And where thou go'st, thy goings fat the ground. 

Plenty bedews the desert places ; 

A hedge of mirth the hills encloseth ; 
The fields with flocks have hid their faces ; 

A robe of corn the valleys clotheth. 
Deserts, and hills, and field-, and valleys all, 
Rejoice, shout, sing, and on thy name do call. 

C 2 



The first stanza seems to me very fine, especially 
the verse, " Return possessed of what they pray thee." 
The third stanza might have been written after the 
Spanish Philip's Armada, but both King David and 
Sir Philip Sidney were dead before God brake that 
archer's bow. 1 The fourth line of the next stanza 
is a noteworthy instance of the sense gathering to 
itself the sound, and is in lovely contrast with the 
closing line of the same stanza. 

One of the most remarkable specimens I know of 
the play with words of which I have already spoken 
as common even in the serious writings of this cen- 
tury, is to be found in the next line : " Where earth 
doth end with endless ending." David, regarding the 
world as a flat disc, speaks of the ends of the earth : 
Sidney, knowing it to be a globe, uses the word of 
the Psalmist, but re-moulds and changes the form 
of it, with a power fantastic, almost capricious in its 
wilfulness, yet causing it to express the fact with a 
marvel of precision. We see that the earth ends ; we 
cannot reach the end we see ; therefore the " earth 
doth end with endless ending." It is a case of that 
contradiction in the form of the words used, which 
brings out a truth in another plane as it were ; — a para- 
dox in words, not in meaning, for the words can bear 
no meaning but the one which reveals its own reality. 

1 There has been some blundering in the transcription of the last two 

lines of this stanza. In the former of the two I have Substituted doth 
for dosty evidently wrong. In the latter, the word cradle is doubtful. I 
suggest cradled ^ but am not satisfied with it. The meaning is, however, 
plain enough. 


The following little psalm, The Lord rcigucth, is 
a thunderous organ-blast of praise. The repetition 
of words in the beginning of the second stanza pro- 
duces a remarkably fine effect. 


Clothed with state, and girt with might, 

Monarch-like Jehovah reigns ; 
He who earth's foundation pight — pitched. 

Pight at first, and yet sustains ; 

He whose stable throne disdains 
Motion's shock and age's flight ; 

He who endless one remains 
One, the same, in changeless plight. 

Rivers — yea, though rivers roar, 

Roaring though sea-billows rise, 
Vex the deep, and break the shore — 

Stronger art thou, Lord of skies! 

Firm and true thy promise lies 
Now and still as heretofore : 

Holy worship never dies 
In thy house where we adore. 

I close my selections from Sidney with one which 
I consider the best of all: it is the first half of Lord, 
thou liast searched me. 


O Lord, in me there lieth nought 
But to thy search revealed lies ; 
For when I sit 
Thou markest it ; 
No less thou notest when I rise : 
Yea, closest closet of my thought 
Hath open windows to thine e\ 

Thou walkest with me when I walk ; 
When to my bed for rest I go, 
I find thee there, 
And ever)' where: 


Not youngest thought in me doth grow, 
Xo, not one word I cast to talk 
But, yet unuttered, thou dost know. 

If forth I march, thou goest before ; 
If back I turn, thou com'st behind : 
So forth nor back 
Thy guard I lack ; 
Nay, on me too thy hand I find. 
Well I thy wisdom may adore, 
But never reach with earthy mind. 

To shun thy notice, leave thine eye, 
O whither might I take my way? 
To starry sphere ? 
Thy throne is there. 
To dead men's undelightsome stay? 
There is thy walk, and there to lie 
Unknown, in vain I should assay. 

O sun, whom light nor flight can match ! 
Suppose thy lightful flightful wings 
Thou lend to me, 
And I could flee 
As far as thee the evening brings : 
Kv n led to wot he would me catch, 
Nor should I lurk with western thing-. 

Do thou thy best, O secret night, 
In sable veil to cover me : 
Thy sable veil 
Shall vainly fail: 
With day unmasked my night shall be; 
Vox night i> day, and darkness light, 
lather of all lights, to thee. 

Note the most musical play with the words light 
and flight in the fifth stanza. There is hardly a line 
that is not delightful. 

They were a wonderful family those Sidneys. Alan/, 
for whom Philip wrote his chief work, thence called 
u The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia," was a woman 


of rare gifts. The chief poem known to be hers 
is called Our Saviour s Passion. It is full of the 
faults of the age. Sir Philip's sport with words is so 
graceful and ordered as to subserve the utterance 
of the thought : his sisters fanciful convolutions 
appear to be -there for their own sake — certainly are 
there to the obscuration of the sense. The difficulty 
of the poem arises in part, I believe, from corruption, 
but chiefly from a certain fantastic way of dealing 
with thought as well as word of which I shall have 
occasion to say more when we descend a little further. 
It is, in the main, a lamentation over our Saviour's 
sufferings, in which the countess is largely guilty 
of the very feminine fault of seeking to convey the 
intensity of her emotions by forcing words, accumu- 
lating forms, and exaggerating descriptions. This 
may indeed convince as to the presence of feeling, 
but cannot communicate the feeling itself. The right 
word will at once generate a sympathy of which all 
agonies of utterance will only render the willing mind 
more and more incapable. 

The poem is likewise very diffuse — again a common 
fault with women of power ; for indeed the faculty 
of compressing thought into crystalline form is one 
of the rarest gifts of artistic genius. It consists of a 
hundred and ten stanzas, from which I shall gather 
and arrange a few. 

lie placed all rest, and had no resting place; 
lie healed each pain, yet lived in sore distress; 
1 Reserved all good, yet lived in great disgrace ; 
Gave all hearts joy, himself in heavin< 

Suffered them live, by whom himself was slain : 
Lord, who can live to see such love ai;ain? 


Whose mansion heaven, yet lay within a manger ; 

Who gave all food, yet sucked a virgin's breast ; 

Who could have killed, yet tied a threatening danger; 

Who sought all quiet by his own unrest : 

Who died for them that highly did offend him, 
Ami lives for them that cannot comprehend him. 

Who came no further than his Father sent him. 
And did fulfil but what he did command him ; 
Who prayed for them that proudly did torment him 
For telling truly of what they did demand him ; 
Who did all good that humbly did intreat him. 
And bare their blows, that did unkindly beat him. 

Had I but seen him as his servants did, 

At sea, at land, in city, or in field, 

Though in himself he had his glory hid, 

That in his grace the light of glory held, 

Then might my sorrow somewhat be appeased. 
That once my soul had in his sight been pleased. 

Xo ! I have run the way of wickedness. 
Forgetting what my faith should follow mo>t ; 
I did not think upon thy holiness. 
Nor by my sins what sweetness I have lost. 
Oh sin ! for sin hath compassed me about, 
That, Lord, I know not where to find thee out. 

Where he that sits on the supernal throne, 
In majesty most glorious to behold. 
And holds the sceptre oi the world alone, 
Hath not his garments of imbroidered gold, 

But he is clothed with truth and righteousr. 

Where angels all do sing with joyful: 

Where heavenly hue i^ cause o{ holy life, 
And holy life increaseth heavenly 
Where peace established without fear or strife, 
Doth prove the blessing of the soul's behove; ' 

Where thirst nor hunger, grief nor sorrow dwelleth, 
But peace in joy, and joy in peace excelleth. 

" The very blessing the soul needed." 


Had all the poem been like these stanzas, I should 
not have spoken so strongly concerning its faults. 
There are a few more such in it. It closes with a 
very fantastic use of musical terms, following upon 
a curious category of the works of nature as praising- 
God, to which I refer for the sake of one stanza, or 
rather of one line in the stanza : 

To see the greyhound course, the hound in chase, 
Whilst little dormouse sleepeth out her eyne : 

The lambs and rabbits sweetly run at base, 1 
Whilst highest trees the little squirrels climb, 

The crawling worms out creeping in the showers, 
And how the snails do climb the lofty towers. 

What a love of animated nature there is in the lovely 
lady ! I am all but confident, however, that second 
line came to her from watching her children asleep. 
She had one child at least : that William Herbert, 
who is generally, and with weight, believed the W. H. 
of Shakspere's Sonnets, a grander honour than the 
earldom of Pembroke, or even the having Philip Sidney 
to his uncle: I will not say grander than having Mary 
Sidney to his mother. 

Let me now turn to Sidney's friend, Sir Fulk 
Grevill, Lord Prooke, who afterwards wrote his life, 
" as an intended preface" to all his "Monuments to 
the memory of Sir Philip Sidney," the said monuments 
being Lord Prooke's own poems. 

My extract is iromA Treatise of Religion, in which. 

1 An old English game, still in use in Scotland and America, but 
vanishing before cricket. 


if the reader do not find much of poetic form, he will 
find at least some grand spiritual philosophy, the stuff 
whereof all highest poetry is fashioned. It is one of 
the first poems in which the philosophy of religion, 
and not either its doctrine, feeling, or history, pre- 
dominates. It is, as a whole, poor, chiefly from its 
being so loosely written. There are men, and men 
whose thoughts are of great worth, to whom it never 
seems to occur that they may utter very largely and 
convey very little ; that what is clear to themselves 
is in their speech obscure as a late twilight. Their 
utterance is rarely articulate : their spiritual mouth 
talks with but half-movements of its lips ; it does not 
model their thoughts into clear-cut shapes, such as 
the spiritual ear can distinguish as they enter it. Of 
such is Lord Brooke. These few stanzas, however, 
my readers will be glad to have : 

What is the chain which draws us back again, 
And lifts man up unto his first creation? 
Nothing in him his own heart can restrain ; 
His reason lives a captive to temptation ; 

Example is corrupt ; precepts are mixed ; 

All fleshly knowledge frail, and never fixed. 

It is a light, a gift, a grace inspired ; 

A spark of power, a goodness of the Good ; 

Desire in him, that never is desired ; 

An unit}', where desolation stood ; 

In us, not of lis, a Spirit not of earth. 
Fashioning the mortal to immortal birth. 
• * * * 

Sense of this God, by fear, the sensual have, 

Distressed Nature crying unto Grace: 


For sovereign reason then becomes a slave, 
And yields to servile sense her sovereign place, 
When more or other she affects to be 

Than seat or shrine of this Eternity. 

Yea, Prince of Earth let Man assume to be, 
Nay more — of Man let Man himself be God, 
Vet without God, a slave of slaves is he ; 
To others, wonder ; to himself, a rod ; 

Restless despair, desire, and desolation ; 

The more secure, the more abomination. 

Then by affecting power, we cannot know him. 
By knowing all things else, we know him less. 
Nature contains him not. Art cannot show him. 
Opinions idols, and not God, express. 

Without, in power, we see him everywhere ; 

Within, we rest not, till we find him there. 

Then seek we must ; that course is natural — 
For owned souls to find their owner out. 
Our free remorses when our natures fall — 
When we do well, our hearts made free from doubt- 
Prove service due to one Omnipotence, 
And Nature of religion to have sense. 

Questions again, which in our hearts arise — 
Since loving knowledge, not humility — 
Though they be curious, godless, and unwise, 
Yet prove our nature feels a Deity; 

For if these strifes rose out of other grounds, 
Man were to God as deafness is to sound.-. 
• ♦ * * 

Vet in this strife, this natural remorse, 
If we could bend the force of power and wit 
To work upon the heart, and make divorce 
There from the evil which preventeth it, 

In judgment of the truth we should not doubt 
d life would find a good religion 


If a fair proportion of it were equal to this, the 
poem would be a fine one, not for its poetry, but for 
its spiritual metaphysics. I think the fourth and 
fifth of the stanzas I have given, profound in 
truth, and excellent in utterance. They are worth 

We now descend a decade of the century, to find 
another group of names within the immediate thres- 
hold of the sixties. 



Except it be Milton's, there is not any prose fuller 
of grand poetic embodiments than Lord Bacon's. 
Yet he always writes contemptuously of poetry, 
having in his eye no doubt the commonplace kinds 
of it, which will always occupy more bulk, and hence 
be more obtrusive, than that which is true in its 
nature and rare in its workmanship. Towards the 
latter end of his life, however, being in ill health at 
the time, he translated seven of the Psalms of David 
into verse, dedicating them to George Herbert. The 
best of them is Psalm civ. — just the one upon which 
we might suppose, from his love to the laws of 
Nature, he would dwell with the greatest sympathy. 
Partly from the wish to hear his voice amongst the 
rest of our singers, partly for the merits of the version 
itself, which has some remarkable lines, I have resolved 
to include it here. It is the first specimen I have 
given in the heroic couplet. 

Father and King of Powers both high and low, 
Whose sounding fame all creatures serve to blow; 
My soul shall with the rest strike up thy praise, 
And carol of thy works, and wondrous ways. 


But who can blaze thy beauties, Lord, aright ? 

They turn the brittle beams of mortal sight. 

Upon thy head thou wear'st a glorious crown, 

All set with virtues, polished with renown : 

Thence round about a silver veil doth fall 

Of crystal light, mother of colours all. 

The compass, heaven, smooth without grain or fold, 

All set with spangs of glittering stars untold, 

And striped with golden beams of power unpent, 

Is raised up for a removing tent. 

Vaulted and arched are his chamber beams 

Upon the seas, the waters, and the streams ; 

The clouds as chariots swift do scour the sky ; 

The stormy winds upon their wings do fly. 

His angels spirits are, that wait his will; 

As flames of fire his anger they fulfil. 

In the beginning, with a mighty hand, 

He made the earth by counterpoise to stand, 

Never to move, but to be fixed still ; 

Vet hath no pillars but his sacred will. 

This earth, as with a veil, once covered was ; 

The waters overflowed all the mass ; 

But upon his rebuke away they fled, 

And then the hills began to show their head ; 

The vales their hollow bosoms opened plain, 

The streams ran trembling down the vales again ; 

And that the earth no more might drowned be, 

He set the sea his bounds of liberty ; 

And though his waves resound and beat the shore, 

Yet it is bridled by his holy lore. 

Then did the rivers seek their proper places, 

And found their heads, their issues, and their races ; 

The springs do feed the rivers all the way, 

And so the tribute to the sea repay : 

Running along through many a pleasant field, 

Much fruitfulness unto the earth they yield ; 

That know the beasts and cattle feeding by, 

Which for to slake their thirst do thither hie. 

Nay, desert grounds the streams do not forsake. 

But through the unknown ways their journey take ; 

The asses wild that hide in wilderness, 


I )) thither come, their thirst for to refresh. 
The shady trees along their banks do spring, 

In which the birds do build, and sit, and sing, 

Stroking the gentle air with pleasant notes, 

Plaining or chirping through their warbling thro 

The higher grounds, where waters cannot : 

By rain and dews are watered from the skies, 

Causing the earth put forth the grass for beasts, 

And garden-herbs, served at the greatest feasts, 

And bread that is all viands' firmament, 

And gives a firm and solid nourishment ; 

And wine man's spirits for to recreate, 

And oil his face for to exhilarate. 

The sappy cedars, tall like stately towers, 

High flying birds do harbour in their bowers ; 

The holy storks that are the travellers, 

Choose for to dwell and build within the firs ; 

The climbing goats hang on steep mountains' side ; 

The digging conies in the rocks do bide. 

The moon, so constant in inconstancy, 

Doth rule the monthly seasons orderly; 

The sun, eye of the world, doth know his race, 

And when to show, and when to hide his face. 

Thou makest darkness, that it may be night, 

Whenas the savage beasts that fly the light, 

As conscious of man's hatred, leave their den, 

And range abroad, secured from sight of men. 

Then do the forests ring of lions roaring, 

That ask their meat of God, their strength restoring ; 

But when the day appears, they back do fly, 

And in their dens again do lurking lie ; 

Then man goes forth to labour in the field, 

Whereby his grounds mure rich increase may vield. 

O Lord, thy providence sufficeth all ; 

Thy goodness not restrained but general 

( her thy creatures, the whole earth doth flow 

With thy great largeness poured forth here below. 

Nor is it earth alone exalts thy name. 

But seas and .streams likewise do spread the 

The rolling seas unto the lot do fall 

Of beasts innumerable, great an 


There do the stately ships plough up the floods j 

The greater navies look like walking woods ; 

The fishes there far voyages do make, 

To divers shores their journey they do take; 

There hast thou set the great leviathan, 

That makes the seas to seethe like boiling pan : 

All these do ask of thee their meat to live, 

Which in due season thou to them dost give : 

Ope thou thy hand, and then they have good fare ; 

Shut thou thy hand, and then they troubled are. 

All life and spirit from thy breath procee^J, 

Thy word doth all things generate and feed : 

If thou withdraw'st it, then they cease to be, 

And straight return to dust and vanity ; 

But when thy breath thou dost send forth again, 

Then all things do renew, and spring amain, 

So that the earth but lately desolate 

Doth now return unto the former state. 

The glorious majesty of God above 

Shall ever reign, in mercy and in love ; 

God shall rejoice all his fair works to see, 

For, as they come from him, all perfect be. 

The earth shall quake, if aught his wrath provoke ; 

Let him but touch the mountains, they shall smoke. 

As long as life doth last, I hymns will sing, 

With cheerful voice, to the Eternal King ; 

As long as I have being, I will praise 

The works of God, and all his wondrous ways. 

I know that he my words will not despise : 

Thanksgiving is to him a sacrifice. 

But as for sinners, they shall be destroyed 

From off the earth— their places shall be void. 

Let all his works praise him with one accord! 

Oh praise the Lord, my soul ! Praise ye the Lord ! 

His Hundred and Forty-ninth Psalm is likewise 

good ; but I have given enough of Lord Bacon's 
verse, and proceed to call up one who was a poet 
indeed, although little known as such, being a Roman 
Catholic, a Jesuit even, and therefore, in Elizabeth's 


reign, a traitor, and subject to the penalties according. 
Robert Southwell, " thirteen times most cruelly tor- 
tured," could "not be induced to confess anything, 
not even the colour of the horse whereon on a certain 
day he rode, lest from such indication his adversaries 
might conjecture in what house, or in company of 
what Catholics, he that day was." I quote these 
words of Lord Burleigh, lest any of my readers, 
discovering weakness in his verse, should attribute 
weakness to the man himself. 

It was no doubt on political grounds that these 
tortures, and the death that followed them, were 
inflicted. But it was for the truth as he saw it, that 
is, for the sake of duty, that Southwell thus endured. 
We must not impute all the evils of a system to 
every individual who holds by it. It ma)' be found 
that a man has, for the sole sake of self-abnegation, 
yielded homage, where, if his object had been per- 
sonal aggrandizement, he might have wielded auth< - 
rity. Southwell, if that which comes from within a 
man may be taken as the test of his character, was 
a devout and humble Christian. In the choir of our 
singers we only ask: " Dost thou lift up thine heart ?" 
Southwell's song answers for him : " I lift it up unt 
the Lord." 

His chief poem i.s called St Peter s Complaint. It 
is of considerable length — a hundred and thirty-two 
stanzas. It reminds us of the Countess of Pem- 
broke's poem, but is far more articulate and far 
superior in versification. Perhaps its chief fault is 
that the pauses are so measured with the lines as 

S.L. IV. H 


to make every line almost a sentence, the effect of 
which is a considerable degree of monotony. Like 
all writers of the time, he is, of course, fond of anti- 
thesis, and abounds in conceits and fancies ; whence 
he attributes a multitude of expressions to St. Peter 
of which never possibly could the substantial ideas 
have entered the Apostle's mind, or probably any 
other than Southwell's own. There is also a good 
deal of sentimentalism in the poem, a fault from 
which I fear modern Catholic verse is rarely free. 
Probably the Italian poetry with which he must 
have been familiar in his youth, during his residence 
in Rome, accustomed him to such irreverences of 
expression as this sentimentalism gives occasion to, 
and which are very far from indicating a corre- 
spondent state of feeling. Sentiment is a poor 
ape of love ; but the love is true notwithstand- 
ing. Here are a few stanzas from St Peters 
Complaint : 

Titles I make untruths : am I a rock, 

That with so soft a gale was overthrown ? 
Am I fit pastor for the faithful Mock 

To guide their souls that murdered thus mine own ? 
A rock of ruin, not a rest to stay ; 
A pastor, — not to feed, but to betray. 

Taiting from Christ my fainting force declined ; 

With lingering foot I followed him aloof; 
Base fear out of my heart his love unshrined, 

I In ge in high words, but impotent in proof. 
My vaunts did seem hatched under Samson's locks, 
Yet woman's words did give me murdering knocks. 


At Sorrow's door I knocked: they craved my name. 

I answered, u i me unworthy to be known." 
" What one? " say they. " ( )ne worthiest of blame." 

"But who?" "A wretch not dud's, nor yet his own." 
"A man?" "Oh, no!" "A beast?" "Much worse." "Whal c 
" A ro< '-.'' " How called?" " The rock of scandal, Peter." 
• ******• 

Christ ! health of fevered soul, heaven of the mind. 

Force of the feeble, nurse of infant loves, 
Guide to the wandering foot, light to the blind, 

Whom weeping wins, repentant sorrow move- ! 
Father in care, mother in tender heart, 
Revive and save me, slain with sinful dart ! 

][ King Manas-eli, sunk in depth of sin, 

With plaints and tears recovered grace and crown, 

A worthless worm some mild regard may win. 
And lowly creep where flying threw it down. 

A poor desire I have to mend my ill ; 

1 should, I would, I dare not say I will, 

I dare not say I will, but wish I may ; 

My pride is checked : high words the speaker spilt. 
My good, O Lord, thy gift — thy strength, my stay — 

Give what thou bidst, and then bid what thou wilt. 
Work with me what of me thou dost request; 
Then will I dare the worst and love the best. 

Here, from another poem, are two little stanzas 
worth preserving: 

Yet Hod's must 1 remain, 

By death, by wrong, by shame ; 

I cannot blot out of my heart 
That grace wrought in his name. 

I cannot set at nought, 

Whom I have held so dear; 
I cannot make Him seem afar 

That is indeed so near. 

The following poem, in style almost as simple sis 

II 2 


a ballad, is at once of the quaintest and truest. 
Common minds, which must always associate a 
certain conventional respectability with the forms of 
religion, will think it irreverent. I judge its reverence 
profound, and such none the less that it is pervaded 
by a sweet and delicate tone of holy humour. The 
very title has a glimmer of the glowing heart of 
Christianity : 


Behold a silly, 1 tender babe, 

In freezing winter night, 
In homely manger trembling lies ; 

Alas ! a piteous sight. 

The inns are full ; no man will yield 

This little pilgrim bed ; 
But forced he is with silly beasts 

In crib to shroud his head. 

Despise him not for lying there ; 

First what he is inquire : 
Ail orient pearl is often found 

In depth of dirty mire. 

Weigh not his crib, his wooden dish, 

Nor beasts that by him feed ; 
Weigh not his mother's poor attire, 

Nor Joseph's simple weed. 

This stable is a prince's court, 

The crib his chair of state ; 
The beasts are parcel of his pump, 

The wooden dish his plate. 

1 Silly means innocent^ and therefore blessed; ignorant of evil, and in 
so far helpless. It is easy to see how affection came to apply it to idiots. 
It is applied to the OX and ass in the next stanza, and is often an epithet 
of shepherds. 


The persons in that poor attire 

His royal Liveries wear ; 
The Prince himself is come from heaven : 

This pom}) is praised there. 

With joy approach, O Christian wight ; 

I )o homage to thy King ; 
And highly praise this humble pomp, 

Which he from heaven doth bring. 

Another, on the same subject, he calls New Heaven^ 

New War. It is fantastic to a degree. One stanza, 
however, I like much : 

This little babe, so few days old, 
Is come to rifle Satan's fold ; 
All hell doth at his presence quake, 
Though he himself for cold do shake ; 
For in this weak, unarmed wise, 
The gates of hell he will surprise. 

There is profoundest truth in the symbolism of this. 
Here is the latter half of a poem called St Peter's 

Remorse : 

Did mercy spin the thread 

To weave in justice' loom ? 
Wert then a father to conclude 

With dreadful judge's doom ? 

It is a small relief 

To say I was thy child, 
If, as an ill-deserving foe, 

From grace I am exiled. 

I was, I had, I could — ■ 

All words importing want ; 
They are but dust of dead supplies, 

Where needful helps are scant. 

Once to have been in bliss 

That hardly can return, 
Doth but bewray from whence I fell, 

And wherefore now I mourn. 


All thoughts of passed hopes 

Increase my present cross ; 
Like ruins of decayed joys, 

They still upbraid my loss. 

mild and mighty Lord I 
Amend that is amiss ; 

My sin my sore, thy love my salve, 
Thy cure my comfort is. 

Confirm thy former deed ; 
Reform that is defiled ; 

1 was, I am, I will remain 

Thy charge, thy choice, thy child. 

Here are some neat stanzas from a poem he calls 


My conscience is my crown, 

Contented thoughts my rest ; 
My heart is happy in itself, 

My bliss is in my breast. 

My wishes are but few, 

All easy to fulfil ; 
I make the limits of my power 

The bounds unto my will. 

Sith sails of largest size 

The storm doth soonest tear, 
I hear so small and low a sail 

As freeth me from fear. 

And taught with often proof, 

A tempered calm I find 
To be most solace to itself, 

Best cure for angry mind. 

No chance of Fortune's calm- 
Can cast my comforts down ; 

When Fortune smiles I smile to think 
How quickly she will frown. 


And when in froward mood 

She proves an angry foe : 
Small gain I found to let her come, 

Less loss to let her go. 

There is just one stanza in a poem of Daniel, who 
belongs by birth to this group, which I should like to 
print by itself, if it were only for the love Coleridge 
had to the last two lines of it. It needs little stretch 
of scheme to let it show itself amongst religious poems. 
It occurs in a fine epistle to the Countess of Cumberland. 
Daniel's writing is full of the practical wisdom of the 
inner life, and the stanza which I quote has a certain 
Wordsworthian flavour about it. It will not make ;: 
complete sentence, but must yet stand by itself: 

Knowing the heart of man i> set to be 
The centre of this world, about the which 
These revolutions of di>turbances 
Still roll ; where all th' aspects of misery 
Predominate ; whose strong effects are such 
As he must bear, being powerless to redress; 
And that unless above himself he can 
Erect himself, how poor a thing is man ! 

Later in the decade, comes Sir Henry Wotton. It 

will be seen that I have arranged my singers with 
reference to their birth, not to the point of time at 
which this or that poem was written or published. 
The poetic influences which work on the shaping 
fantasy are chiefly felt in youth, and hence the 
predominant mode of a poet's utterance will be 
determined by what and where and amongst whom 
he was during that season. The kinds of the vari- 
ous poems will therefore probably fall into natural 


sequence rather after the dates of the youth of 
the writers than after the years in which they were 

Wotton was better known in his day as a politician 
than as a poet, and chiefly in ours as the subject of 
one of Izaak Walton's biographies. Something of 
artistic instinct, rather than finish, is evident in his 
verses. Here is the best and the best-known of the 
few poems recognized as his : 


How happy is he born and taught, 

That serveth not another's will ; 
Whose armour is his honest thought, 

And silly truth his highest skill ; 

Whose passions not his masters are ; 

Whose soul is still prepared for death, 
Untied to the world with care 

Of prince's grace or vulgar breath ; 

Who hath his life from humours freed ; 

Whose conscience is his strong retreat ; 
Whose state can neither flatterers ^(\, 

Nor ruin make accusers great ; 

Who envieth none whom chance doth raise, 

Or vice ; who never understood 
How swords give slighter wounds than praise, 

Nor rules of state, but rules of good ; 

Who Cod doth late and early pray 

More of his grace than gifts to lend ; 
And entertains the harmless day 

With a well-choseil book or friend. 

This man is free from servile bands 

( )f hope t<> rise, or fear to fall : 
Lord of himself, though not of lands ! 

And having nothing, yet hath all. 


Some of my readers will observe that in many 
places I have given a reading different from that in 
the best-known copy of the poem. I have followed 
a manuscript in the handwriting of Ben Jonson. 1 I 
cannot tell whether Jonson has put the master's hand 
to the amateur's work, but in every case I find his 
reading the best. 

Sir John Davies must have been about fifteen 
years younger than Sir Fulk Grevill. He was born in 
1570, was bred a barrister, and rose to high position 
through the favour of James I. — gained, it is said, by 
the poem which the author called Nosce Teipsum? 
but which is generally entitled On the Immortality 
of the Soul, intending by immortality the spiritual 
nature of the soul, resulting in continuity of exist- 
ence. It is a wonderful instance of what can be 
done for metaphysics in verse, and by means of 
imagination or poetic embodiment generally. Argu- 
mentation cannot of course naturally belong to the 
region of poetry, however well it may comport itself 
when there naturalized ; and consequently, although 
there are most poetic no less than profound passages 
in the treatise, a light scruple arises whether its con- 
stituent matter can properly be called poetry. At 
all events, however, certain of the more prosaic 
measures and stanzas lend themselves readily, and 
with much favour, to some of the more complex 
of logical necessities. And it must be remembered 

1 See Poems by Sir Henry Wotton and others* Edited by the Rev. 
Joint Hannah. 

- '" Know thyself." 


that in human speech, as in the human mind, there 
are no absolute divisions : power shades off into 
feeling; and the driest logic may find the heroic 
couplet render it good service. 

Sir John Davies's treatise is not only far more 
poetic in image and utterance than that of Lord 
Brooke, but is far more clear in argument and firm 
in expression as well. Here is a fine invocation : 

Light, which mak'st the light which makes the clay ! 

Which sett'st the eye without, and mind within ; 
Lighten my spirit with one clear heavenly ray, 

Which now to view itself doth first begin. 

Thou, like the sun, dost, with an equal ray, 

Into the palace and the cottage shine ; 
And show'st the soul both to the clerk and lay, /earned and 

By the clear lamp of th' oracle divine. [unlearned. 

He is puzzled enough to get the theology of his time 
into harmony with his philosophy, and I cannot say 
that he is always triumphant in the attempt ; but 
here at least is good argument in justification of the 
freedom of man to sin. 

If by His word he had the current stayed 

( )f Adam's will, which was by nature free, 
It had been one as if his word had said, 

" I will henceforth that Man no Man shall be." 

* * * « 

For what is Man without a moving mind, 

Which hath a judging wit, and choosing will ? 
Now, if God's pow*r should her election bind, 

Her motions then would cease, and stand all still. 

So that if Man would be unvariable, 

IK- must he God, or like a rock or tree ; 
For ev n the perfect angels were not stable, 
But had a fall more desperate than we. 


The poem contains much excellent argument in 
mental science as well as in religion and metaphysics ; 
but with that department I have nothing to do. 

I shall now give an outlook from the highest peak 
of the poem — to any who are willing to take the 
trouble necessary for seeing what another would 
show them. 

The section from which I have gathered the follow- 
ing stanzas is devoted to the more immediate proof 
of the soul's immortality. 

Her only end is never-ending bliss, 

Which Is the eternal face of God to sec, 
Who last of end- and first of causes is ; 

And to do this, she must eternal be. 

Again, how can she but immortal be, 

When with the motions of both will and wit, 

She still aspireth to eternity, 

And never rests till she attains to it? 

Water in conduit -pipes can rise no higher 

Than the well-head from whence it first doth spring; 

Then since to eternal God she doth aspire, 
She cannot but be an eternal thing. 

At first her mother-earth she holdeth dear, 

And doth embrace the world and worldly things ; 

She flies close by the ground, and hovers here, 
And mounts not up with her celestial wings. 

Yet under heaven she cannot light on oughf 

That with her heavenly nature doth agree ; 
She cannot rot, she cannot fix her thought, 

She cannot in this world contented be. 

For who did ever yet, in honour, wealth, 

Or pleasure of the sense, contentment find? 
Whoever ceased to wish, when he had health? 

Or having wisdom, was not vexed in mind ? 


Then as a bee, which among weeds doth fall, 

Which seem sweet flowers, with lustre fresh and gay — 

She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all, 

But, pleased with none, doth rise, and soar away ; 

So, when the soul finds here no true content, 

And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take, 

She doth return from whence she first was sent, 

And flies to him that first her wings did make. 

Wit, seeking truth, from cause to cause ascends, 

And never rests till it the first attain ; 
Will, seeking good, finds many middle ends, 

But never stays till it the last do gain. 

Now God the truth, and first of causes is"; 

God is the last good end, which lasteth still ; 
Being Alpha and Omega named for this : 

Alpha to wit, Omega to the will. 

Since then her heavenly kind she doth display 

In that to God she doth directly move, 
And on no mortal thing can make her stay, 

She cannot be from hence, but from above. 

One passage more, the conclusion and practical 
summing up of the whole : 

O ignorant poor man ! what dost thou bear, 
Locked up within the casket of thy breast ? 

What jewels and what riches hast thou there ! 
What heavenly treasure in so weak a chest ! 

Think of her worth, and think that God did mean 
This worthy mind should worthy tilings embrace : 

Blot not her beauties with thy thoughts unclean, 
Nor her dishonour with thy passion base. 

Kill not her quickening power with surfeitings ; 

Mar not her sense with sensuality ; 
Cast not her serious wit on idle things ; 
Make not her free-will slave to vanity. 


And when tbouthink'st of her eternity, 

Think not that death against our nature is ; 
Think it a birth ; and when thou go'st to die, 

Sing like a swan, as if thou went'st to bliss. 

And if thou, like a child, didst fear before, 

Being in the dark where thou didst nothing .see ; 

Now I have brought thee torch-light, fear no more; 
Now when thou diest thou canst not hood-wink'd be. 

And thou, my soul, which turn'st with curious eye 
To view the beams of thine own form divine, 

Know, that thou canst know nothing perfectly, 
\Vhile thou art clouded with this flesh of mine. 

Take heed of over-weening, and compare 

Thy peacock's feet with thy gay peacock's train : 

Study the best and highest things that are, 
But of thyself an humble thought retain. 

Cast down thyself, and only strive to raise 

The story of thy Maker's sacred name : 
Use all thy powers that blessed Power to praise, 

Which gives the power to be, and use the same. 

In looking back over our path from the point we 
have now reached, the first thought that sugg. 
itself is — How much the reflective has supplanted the 
emotional ! I do not mean for a moment that the 
earliest poems were without thought, or that the 
latest are without emotion ; but in the former there 
is more of the skin, as it were — in the latter, more 
of the bones of worship ; not that in the one the 
worship is but skin-deep, or that in the other the 
bones are dry. 

To look at the change a little more closely : we 
find in the earliest time, feeling working on historic 
fact and on what was received as such, and the result 


simple aspiration after goodness. The next stage is 
good doctrine — I use the word, as St. Paul uses it, 
for instruction in righteousness — chiefly by means of 
allegory, all attempts at analysis being made through 
personification of qualities. Here the general form is 
frequently more poetic than the matter. After this 
we have a period principally of imitation, sometimes 
good, sometimes indifferent. Next, with the Refor- 
mation and the revival of literature together, come 
more of art and more of philosophy, to the detri- 
ment of the lyrical expression. People cannot think 
and sing : they can only feel and sing. But the 
philosophy goes farther in this direction, even to the 
putting in abeyance of that from which song takes 
its rise, — namely, feeling itself. As to the former, 
amongst the verse of the period I have given, there 
is hardly anything to be called song but Sir Philip 
Sidney's Psalms, and for them we are more indebted 
to King David than to Sir Philip. As to the latter, 
even in the case of that most mournful poem of 
the Countess of Pembroke, it is, to quite an un- 
healthy degree, occupied with the attempt to work 
upon her own feelings by the contemplation of them, 
instead of with the utterance of those aroused by the 
contemplation of truth. In her case the metaphysics 
have begun to prey upon and consume the emotions. 
Besides, that age was essentially a dramatic age, as 
even its command of language, especially as shown 
in the pranks it plays with it, would almost indicate ; 
and the dramatic impulse is less favourable, though 
not at all opposed, to lyrical utterance. In the cases 


of Sir Fulk Grevill and Sir John Davies, the feeling 
is assuredly profound ; but in form and expression 

the philosophy has quite the upper hand. 

We must not therefore suppose, however, that the 
cause of religious poetry has been a losing one. The 
last wave must sink that the next may rise, and the 
whole tide flow shorewards. The man must awake 
through all his soul, all his strength, all his mind, that 
he may worship God in unity, in the one harmonious 
utterance of his being : his heart must be united to 
fear his name. And for this final perfection of the 
individual the race must awake. At this season and 
that season, this power or that power must be chiefly 
developed in her elect ; and for-its sake the growth of 
others must for a season be delayed. But the next 
generation will inherit all that has gone before ; and 
its elect, if themselves pure in heart, and indi- 
vidual, that is original, in mind, will, more or less 
thoroughly, embody the result, in subservience to 
some new development, essential in its turn to further 
progress. Even the fallow times, which we arc so 
ready to call barren, must have their share in working 
the one needful work. They may be to the nation 
that which sickness so often is to the man — a time of 
refreshing from the Lord. A nation's life does not 
lie in its utterance any more than in the things which 
it possesses : it lies in its action. The utterance is a 
result, and therefore a sign, of life ; but there may 
be life without any such sign. To do justice, to love 
mercy, to walk humbly with God, is the highest life 
of a nation as of an individual; and when the time 


for speech comes, it will be such life alone that causes 
the speech to be strong at once and harmonious. 
When at last there are not ten righteous men in 
Sodom, Sodom can neither think, act, nor say, and 
her destruction is at hand. 

While the wave of the dramatic was sinking, the 
wave of the lyric was growing in force and rising in 
height. Especially as regards religious poetry we arc 
as yet only approaching the lyrical jubilee. Fact 
and faith, self-consciousness and metaphysics, all are 
needful to the lyric of love. Modesty and art find 
their grandest, simplest labour in rightly subordinating 
each of those to the others. How could we have 
a George Herbert without metaphysics? In those 
poems I have just given, the way of metaphysics 
was prepared for him. That which overcolours one 
age to the injury of its harmony, will, in the next or 
the next, fall into its own place in the seven-chorded 
rainbow of truth. 



WE now come to Dr. John Donne, a man of justly 
great respect and authority, who, born in the year 
1573, the fifteenth of Queen Elizabeth, died Dean of 
St. Paul's in the year 1636. But, although even Ben 
Jonson addresses him as "the delight of Phoebus and 
each Muse," we are too far beyond the power of his 
social presence and the influence of his public utter- 
ances to feel that admiration of his poems which was 
so largely expressed during his lifetime. Of many 
of those that were written in his youth, Izaak Walton 
says Dr. Donne "wished that his own eyes had 
witnessed their funerals." Faulty as they are, how- 
ever, they are not the less the work of a great and 
earnest man. 

Bred to the law, but never having practised it, he 
lost his secretaryship to the Lord Chancellor Elles- 
mere through the revenge of Sir George More, 
whose daughter Donne had married in secret because 
of her father's opposition. Dependent thereafter for 
years on the generous kindness of unrelated friends, 
he yet for conscience' sake refused to take orders when 

S.L. IV. X 


a good living was offered him ; and it was only after 
prolonged thought that he yielded to the importunity 
of King James, who was so convinced of his surpass- 
ing fitness for the church that he would speed him to- 
wards no other goal. When at length he dared hope 
that God might have called him to the high office, 
never man gave himself to its duties with more of 
whole-heartedness and devotion, and none have proved 
themselves more clean of the sacrilege of serving at 
the altar for the sake of the things offered thereon. 

He is represented by Dr. Johnson as one of the 
chief examples of that school of poets called by him- 
self the metaphysical, an epithet which, as a definition, 
is almost false. True it is that Donne and his fol- 
lowers were always ready to deal with metaphysical 
subjects, but it was from their mode, and not their 
subjects, that Dr. Johnson classed them. What this 
mode was we shall see presently, for I shall be justi- 
fied in setting forth its strangeness, even absurdity, by 
the fact that Dr. Donne was the dear friend of George 
Herbert, and had much to do with the formation of 
his poetic habits. Just twenty years older than 
Herbert, and the valued and intimate friend of his 
mother, Donne was in precisely that relation of age 
and circumstance to influence the other in the highest 

The central thought of Dr. Donne is nearly sure to 
be just : the subordinate thoughts by means of which 
he unfolds it are often grotesque, and so wildly associ- 
ated as to remind one of the lawlessness of a dream, 
wherein mere suggestion without choice or fitness 


rules the sequence. As some of the writers of whom 
I have last spoken would play with words, Dr. Donne 
would sport with ideas, and with the visual images or 
embodiments of them. Certainly in his case much 
knowledge reveals itself in the association of his ideas, 
and great facility in the management and utterance 
of them. True likewise, he says nothing unrelated 
to the main idea of the poem ; but not the less 
certainly does the whole resemble the speech of a 
child of active imagination, to whom judgment as 
to the character of his suggestions is impossible, his 
taste being equally gratified with a lovely image 
and a brilliant absurdity: a butterfly and a shining 
potsherd are to him similarly desirable. Whatever 
wild thing starts from the thicket of thought, all is 
worthy game to the hunting intellect of Dr. Donne, 
and is followed without question of tone, keeping, or 
harmony. In his play with words, Sir Philip Sidney 
kept good heed that even that should serve the end 
in view ; in his play with ideas, Dr. John Donne, so 
far from serving the end, sometimes obscures it almost 
hopelessly : the hart escapes while he follows the 
squirrels and weasels and bats. It is not surprising 
that, their author being so inartistic with regard to 
their object, his verses themselves should be harsh 
and unmusical beyond the worst that one would 
imagine fit to be called verse. He enjoys the un- 
enviable distinction of having no rival in ruggedness 
of metric movement and associated sounds. This is 
clearly the result of indifference; an indifference, how- 
ever, which grows very strange to us when we find 

I 2 


that he can write a lovely verse and even an exquisite 

Greatly for its own sake, partly for the sake of 
illustration, I quote a poem containing at once his 
best and his worst, the result being such an incon- 
gruity that we wonder whether it might not be called 
his best and his worst, because we cannot determine 
which. He calls it Hymn to God, my God, in my 
Sickness. The first stanza is worthy of George Herbert 
in his best mood. 

Since I am coming to that holy room, 

Where with the choir of saints for evermore 

I shall be made thy music, as I come 
I tune the instrument here at the door, 
And what I must do then, think here before. 

To recognize its beauty, leaving aside the depth 
and truth of the phrase, " Where I shall be made 
thy music," we must recall the custom of those days 
to send out for " a noise of musicians." Hence he 
imagines that he has been summoned as one of a 
band already gone in to play before the king of 
"The High Countries :" he is now at the door, where 
lie is listening to catch the tone, that he may have 
his instrument tuned and ready before he enters. 
Hut with what a jar the next stanza breaks on heart, 
mind, and car ! 

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown 
Cosmographers, and I ' their map, who lie 

Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown 
That this is my south-west discovery, 
Per f return febris by these straits to die ; — 

1 "And I have grown their map* 


Here, in the midst of comparing himself to a map, 
and his physicians to cosmographers consulting the 
map, he changes without warning into a navigator 
whom they arc trying to follow upon the map as he 
passes through certain straits — namely, those of the 
fever — towards his south-west discovery, Death. 
Grotesque as this is, the absurdity deepens in the 
end of the next stanza by a return to the former 
idea. He is alternately a map and a man sailing 
on the map of himself. But the first half of the 
stanza is lovely : my reader must remember that the 
region of the West was at that time the Land of 
Promise to England. 

I joy that in these straits I see my West ; 

For though those currents yield return to none, 
What shall my West hurt me ? As west and east 

In all flat maps (and I am one) are one, 

So death doth touch the resurrection. 

It is hardly worth while, except for the strangeness 
of the phenomenon, to spend any time in elucidating 
this. Once more a map, he is that of the two hemi- 
spheres, in which the east of the one touches the 
west of the other. Could anything be much more 
unmusical than the line, " In all flat maps (and I 
am one) are one " ? But the next stanza is worse. 

Is the Pacific sea my home ? Or are 
The eastern riches ? Is Jerusalem ? 

Anvan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar? 

All straits, and none but straits arc ways to them, 
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Chain, or Sem. 

The meaning of the stanza is this : there is n 1 


earthly home : all these places are only straits that 
lead home, just as they themselves cannot be reached 
but through straits. 

Let my reader now forget all but the first stanza, 
and take it along with the following, the last two : 

We think that Paradise and Calvary, 

Christ's cross and Adam's tree, stood in one place : 

Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me ; 
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face, 
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace. 

So, in his purple wrapped, receive me, Lord ; 
By these his thorns give me his other crown ; 

And as to others' souls I preached thy word, 
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own : 
Therefore, that he may raise, the Lord throws down. 

Surely these are very fine, especially the middle 
verse of the former and the first verse of the latter 
stanza. The three stanzas together make us lovingly 
regret that Dr. Donne should have ridden his Pegasus 
over quarry and housetop, instead of teaching him 
his paces. 

The next I quote is artistic throughout. Perhaps 
the fact, of which we arc informed by Izaak Walton, 
" that he caused it to be set to a grave and solemn 
tune, and to be often sung to the organ by the 
choristers of St. Paul's church in his own hearing, 
especially at the evening service," may have some- 
thing to do with its degree of perfection. There is 
no sign of his usual haste about it. It is even ela- 
borately rhymed after Norman fashion, the rhymes 
in eacli stanza being consonant with the rhymes in 
every stanza. 



Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun, 

Which was my sin, though it were clone before? 1 
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run, 2 
And do run still, though still I do deplore ? — 
When thou hast done, thou hast not done ; 
For I have more. 

Wilt thou forgive that sin which I have won 

Others to sin, and made my sins their door? 3 
Wilt thou forgive that sin which I did shun 
A year or two, but wallowed in a score ? — 
When thou hast done, thou hast not done ; 
For I have more. 

I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun 

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ; 
But swear by thyself, that at my death thy Son 
Shall shine, as he shines now and heretofore ; 
And having done that, thou hast done : 
I fear no more. 

In those days even a pun might be a serious thing : 
witness the play in the last stanza on the words son 
and sun — not a mere pun, for the Son of the Father 
is the Sun of Righteousness : he is Life and Light. 

What the Doctor himself says concerning the 
hymn, appears to me not only interesting but of 
practical value. He "did occasionally say to a friend, 
1 The words of this hymn have restored to me the 
same thoughts of joy that possessed my soul in my 
sickness, when I composed it.' " What a help it 

1 The guilt of Adam's first sin, supposed by the theologians of Dr. 
I tonne's time to be imputed to Adam's descendants. 
- The past tense : ran. 
:; Their door to enter into sin — by his example. 


would be to many, if in their more gloomy times 
they would but recall the visions of truth they had, 
and were assured of, in better moments ! 

Here is a somewhat strange hymn, which yet 
possesses, rightly understood, a real grandeur : 


At the Author s last going into Germany. x 

In what torn ship soever I embark, 
That ship shall be my emblem of thy ark ; 
What sea soever swallow me, that flood 
Shall be to me an emblem of thy blood. 
Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise 
Thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes, 
Which, though they turn away sometimes — 
They never will despise. 

I sacrifice this island unto thee, 
And all whom I love here and who love me : 
When I have put this flood 'twixt them and me, 
Put thou thy blood betwixt my sins and thee. 
As the tree's sap doth seek the root below 
In winter, in my winter- now I go 
Where none but thee, the eternal root 
Of true love, I may know. 

Nor thou, nor thy religion, dost control 
The amorousness of an harmonious soul ; 
But thou wouldst have that love thyself: as thou 
Art jealous, Lord, so I am jealous now. 
Thou lov'st not, till from loving more thou free 
My soul : who ever gives, takes liberty : 
Oh, if thou ear'st not whom I love, 
Alas, thou lov'st not me ! 

1 He was sent by James I. to assist an embassy to the Elector Pala- 
tine, who had married his daughter Elizabeth. 

2 He had lately lost his wife, for whom he had a rare Love. 


wSeal then this bill of my divorce to all 
On whom those fainter beams of love did fall ; 
Marry those loves, which in youth scattered be 
( hi face, wit, hopes, (false mistresses), to thee. 
Churches are best for prayer that have least light : 
To see God only, I go out of sight ; 
And, to 'scape stormy days, I choose 
An everlasting night. 

To do justice to this poem, the reader must take 
some trouble to enter into the poet's mood. 

It is in a measure distressing that, while I grant 
with all my heart the claim of his " Muse's white 
sincerity," the taste in — I do not say of — some of his 
best poems should be such that I will not present 

Out of twenty-three Holy Sonnets, every one of 
which, I should almost say, possesses something re- 
markable, I choose three. Rhymed after the true 
Petrarchian fashion, their rhythm is often as bad as 
it can be to be called rhythm at all. Yet these are 
very fine. 

Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay ? 

Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste ; 

I run to death, and death meets me as fast, 
And all my pleasures are like yesterday. 
I dare not move my dim eyes any way, 

Despair behind, and death before doth cast 

Such terror ; and my feeble flesh doth waste 
By sin in it, which it towards hell cloth weigh. 
Only thou art above, and when towards thee 

By thy leave I can look, I rise again ; 
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me, 

That not one hour myself I can sustain : 
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art, 
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart. 


If faithful souls be alike glorified 

As angels, then my father's soul doth see, 
And adds this even to full felicity, 

That valiantly I hell's wide mouth o'erstride : 

But if our minds to these souls be descried 
By circumstances and by signs that be 
Apparent in us — not immediately 1 — 

How shall my mind's white truth by them be tried ? 
They see idolatrous lovers weep and mourn, 

And, style blasphemous, conjurors to call 

On Jesu's name, and pharisaical 

Dissemblers feign devotion. Then turn, 

O pensive soul, to God ; for he knows best 

Thy grief, for he put it into my breast. 

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee 

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ; 

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow, 
Die not, poor Death ; nor yet canst thou kill me. 
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture be, 

Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow ; 

And soonest 2 our best men with thee do go, 
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery ! 

Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, 
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell ; 
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well, 

And better than thy stroke. Why swell'st 8 thou then? 
One short sleep past, we wake eternally, 
And death shall be no more : Death, thou shalt die. 

In a poem called The Cross, full of fantastic con- 
ceits, we find the following remarkable lines, embo- 
dying the profoundest truth. 

A perchance carvers do not faces make, 

But that away, which hid them there, do take : 

Let crosses SO take w hat hid Christ in thee, 

And be his Image, or not his, but he. 

1 " If they know us not by intuition, but by judging from circumstances 
and signs." 

a •" With most willingness." :; "Art proud." 


One more, and we shall take our leave of Dr. 
Donne. It is called a fragment ; but it seems to me 
complete. It will serve as a specimen of his best 
and at the same time of his most characteristic mode 
of presenting fine thoughts grotesquely attired. 


Sleep, sleep, old sun ; thou canst not have re-past l 
As yet the wound thou took'st on Friday last. 
Sleep then, and rest : the world may bear thy stay ; 
A better sun rose before thee to-day ; 
Who, not content to enlighten all that dwell 
On the earth's face as thou, enlightened hell, 
And made the dark fires languish in that vale, 
As at thy presence here our fires grow pale ; 
Whose body, having walked on earth and now 
Hastening to heaven, would, that he might allow 
Himself unto all stations and fill all, 
For these three days become a mineral. 
He was all gold when he lay down, but rose 
All tincture ; and doth not alone dispose 
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is 
Of power to make even sinful flesh like his. 
Had one of those, whose credulous piety 
Thought that a soul one might discern and see 
Go from a body, at this sepulchre been, 
Ami issuing from the sheet this body seen, 
He would have justly thought this body a soul, 
If not of any man, yet of the whole. 

What a strange mode of saying that he is our 
head, the captain of our salvation, the perfect hu- 
manity in which our life is hid ! Vet it has its 
dignity. When one has got over the oddity of these 

1 A strange use <>f the word; but it evidently means . and 

me analogy with the French 


last six lines, the figure contained in them shows itself 
almost grand. 

As an individual specimen of the grotesque form 
holding a fine sense, regard for a moment the words, 

He was all gold when he lay down, but rose 
All tincture : 

which means, that, entire!}" good when he died, he 
was something yet greater when he rose, for he had 
gained the power of making others good : the tincture 
intended here was a substance whose touch would 
turn the basest metal into gold. 

Through his poems are scattered many fine pas- 
sages ; but not even his large influence on the better 
poets who followed is sufficient to justify our listening 
to him longer now. 



JOSEPH HALL, born in 1574, a year after Dr. Donne, 
bishop, first of Exeter, next of Norwich, is best known 
by his satires. It is not for such that I can mention 
him : the most honest satire can claim no place 
amongst religious poems. It is doubtful if satire ever 
did any good. Its very language is that of the half- 
brute from which it is well named. 

Here are three poems, however, which the bishop 
wrote for his choir. 


Lord, what am I ? A worm, dust, vapour, nothing ! 

What is my life ? A dream, a daily dying ! 
What is my flesh? My soul's uneasy clothing ! 
What is my time? A minute ever Hying : 
My time, my flesh, my life, and I, 
What are we, Lord, but vanity? 

Where am I, Lord? Down in a vale of death. 

What is my trade? Sin, my dear God offending : 
My sport sin too, my stay a puff of breath. 

What end of sin? Hell's horror never ending : 
My way, my trade, sport, stay, and place, 
Help to make up my doleful ca^e. 


Lord, what art thou ? Pure life, power, beauty, bliss. 

Where dwell' st thou ? Up above in perfect light. 
What is thy time? Eternity it is. 

What state? Attendance of each glorious sprite : 
Thyself, thy place, thy days, thy state 
Pass all the thoughts of powers create. 

I low shall I reach thee, Lord? Oh, soar above, 
Ambitious soul. But which way should I fly? 
Thou, Lord, art way and end. What wings have I ? 
Aspiring thoughts — of faith, of hope, of love : 
Oh, let these wings, that way alone 
Present me to thy blissful throne. 


Immortal babe, who this dear day 
Didst change thine heaven for our clay, 
And didst with flesh thy Godhead veil, 
Eternal Son of God, all hail ! 

Shine, happy star ! Ye angels, sing 

Glory on high to heaven's king ! 

Run, shepherds, leave your nightly watch ! 

See heaven come down to Bethlehem's cratch ! 

Worship, ye sages of the east, 

The king of gods in meanness drest ! 

O blessed maid, smile, and adore 

The God thy womb and arms have bore ! 

Star, angels, shepherds, and wise sag 
Thou virgin-glory of all ages! 
Restored frame of heaven and earth ! 
|oy in your dear Redeemer's birth. 

Leave, o my soul, this baser world below ; 
() Leave this doleful dungeon of woej 
And soar aloft to that supernal rest 
That maketfa all the saints and angels blesl : 

Lo, there the Godhead's radiant throne. 

Like to ten thousand suns in one ! 


Lo, there thy Saviour dear, in glory (light, dre 

Adored of all the powers of heavens bright ! 
Lo, where that head that bled with thorny wound, 
Shines ever with celestial honour crowned ! 

That hand that held the scornful reed 

Makes all the fiends infernal dread. 

That back and side that ran with bloody streams 
Daunt angels' eyes with their majestic beams ; 
Those feet, once fastened to the cursed tree, 
Trample on Death and Hell, in glorious glee. 
Those lips, once drenched with gall, do make 
With their dread doom the world to quake. 

Behold those joys thou never canst behold ; 
Those precious gates of pearl, those streets of gold, 
Those streams of life, those trees of Paradise 
That never can be seen by mortal eyes ! 

And when thou seest this state divine, 

Think that it is or shall be thine. 

See there the happy troops of purest sprites 
That live above in endless true delights ! 
And see where once thyself shalt ranged be, 
And look and long for immortality ! 

And now beforehand help to sing 

Hallelujahs to heaven's king. 

Polished as these are in comparison to those of 
Dr. Donne, and fine, too, as they are intrinsically, 
there are single phrases in his that are worth them 
all — except, indeed, that one splendid line, 

Trample on Death and Hell in glorious glee. 

George Sandys, the son of an archbishop of York, 
and^born in 1577, is better known by his travels in 
the east than by his poetry. But his version of the 
Psalms is in good and various verse, not unfrequently 


graceful, sometimes fine. The following is not only 
in a popular rhythm, but is neat and melodious as 


Thou who art enthroned above, 
Thou by whom we live and move, 

how sweet, how excellent 

Is't with tongue and heart's consent, 

Thankful hearts and joyful tongues, 

To renown thy name in songs ! 

AY hen the morning paints the skies, 

When the sparkling stars arise, 

Thy high favours to rehearse, 

Thy firm faith, in grateful verse ! 

Take the lute and violin, 

Let the solemn harp begin, 

Instruments strung with ten strings, 

While the silver cymbal rings. 

From thy works my joy proceeds ; 

How I triumph in thy deeds ! 

Who thy wonders can express ? 

All thy thoughts are fathomless — 

Hid from men in knowledge blind, 

Hid from fools to vice inclined. 

Who that tyrant sin obey, 

Though they spring like flowers in May — 

Parched with heat, and nipt with frost, 

Soon shall fade, for ever lost. 

Lord, thou art most great, most high ; 

Such from all eternity. 

Perish shall thy enemies, 

Rebels that against thee rise. 

All who in their sins delight, 

Shall be scattered by thy might 

But thou shalt exalt my horn 

Like a youthful unicorn, 

1 r h and fragrant odours shed 
On thy crowned prophet's head. 


I shall sec my foes' defeat, 

Shortly hear of their retreat ; 

But the just like palms shall flourish 

Which the plains of Judah nourish, 

Like tall cedars mounted on 

Cloud-ascending Lebanon. 

Plants set in thy court, below 

Spread their roots, and upwards grow ; 

Fruit in their old age shall bring. 

Ever fat and flourishing. 

This God's justice celebrates : 

He, my rock, injustice hates. 


Thou mover of the rolling spheres, 
I, through the glasses of my tears, 

To thee my eyes erect. 
As servants mark their master's hands, 
As maids their mistress's commands, 

And liberty expect, 

So we, depressed by enemies 
And growing troubles, fix our eyes 

On God, who sits on high ; 
Till he in mercy shall descend, 
To give our miseries an end, 

And turn our tears to joy. 

O save us, Lord, by all forlorn, 
The subject of contempt and scorn : 

Defend us from their pride 
Who live in fluency and ease, 
Who with our woes their malice please, 

And miseries deride. 

Here is a part of the 66th Psalm, which makes a 
complete little song of itself : 

S.L. IV. £ 


Bless the Lord. His praise be sung 

While an ear can hear a tongue. 

He our feet established ; 

He our souls redeems from death. 

Lord, as silver purified, 

Thou hast with affliction tried, 

Thou hast driven into the net, 

Burdens on our shoulders set. 

Trod on by their horses' hooves, 

Theirs whom pity never moves, 

We through fire, with flames embraced, 

We through raging floods have passed, 

Yet by thy conducting hand, 

Brought into a wealthy land. 



FROM the nature of their adopted mode, we cannot 
look for much poetry of a devotional kind from the 
dramatists. That mode admitting of no utterance 
personal to the author, and requiring the scope of a 
play to bring out the intended truth, it is no wonder 
that, even in the dramas of Shakspere, profound as 
is the teaching they contain, we should find nothing 
immediately suitable to our purpose ; while neither 
has he left anything in other form approaching in 
kind what we seek. Ben Jonson, however, born in 
1574, who may be regarded as the sole representative 
of learning in the class, has left, amongst a large 
number of small pieces, three Poems of Devotion, 
whose merit may not indeed be great, but whose 
feeling is, I think, genuine. Whatever were his faults, 
and they were not few, hypocrisy was not one of 
them. I lis nature was fierce and honest. He might 
boast, but he could not pretend. His oscillation 
between the reformed and the Romish church can 
hardly have had other cause than a vacillating 
conviction. It could not have served any prudential 

K 2 


end that we can see, to turn catholic in the reign of 
Elizabeth, while in prison for killing in a duel a player 
who had challenged him. 



O holy, blessed, glorious Trinity 
Of persons, still one God in Unity, 
The faithful man's believed mystery, 

Help, help to lift 
Myself up to thee, harrowed, torn, and bruised 
By sin and Satan, and my flesh misused. 
As my heart lies — in pieces, all confused — 

O take my gift. 

All-gracious God, the sinner's sacrifice, 

A broken heart, thou wert not wont despise, 

But, 'bove the fat of rams or bulls, to prize 

An offering meet 
For thy acceptance : Oh, behold me right, 
And take compassion on my grievous plight ! 
What odour can be, than a heart contrite, 

To thee more sweet ? 

Eternal Father, God, who didst create 
This All of nothing, gav'st it form and fate, 
And breath'st into it life and light, with state 

To worship thee ! 
Eternal God the Son, who not deniedst 
To take our nature, becam'st man, and diedst, 
To pay our debts, upon thy cross, and criedst 

AlVs done in me I 
Eternal Spirit, God from both proceeding, 
Father and Son the Comforter, in breeding 
Pure thoughts in man, with fiery zeal them feeding 

For acts of grace ! 
Increase those acts, glorious Trinity 
Of persons, Still one God in Unity, 
Till I attain the longed-for mystery 

Of seeing your face, 


Beholding one in three, and three in one, 

A Trinity, to shine in Union — 

The gladdest light, dark man can think upon — 

O grant it me, 
Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, you three, 
All co-eternal in your majesty, 
1 distinct in person.-, yet in unity 

One God to see ; 

My Maker, Saviour, and my Sanctifier, 
To hear, to mediate, 1 sweeten my desire, 
With grace, with love, with cherishing entire ! 

O then, how blest 
Among thy saints elected to abide, 
And with thy angels placed, side by side ! 
But in thy presence truly glorified, 

Shall I there rest ! 


Hear me, O God ! 

A broken heart 

Is my best part : 
Use still thy rod, 

That I may prove 

Therein thy love. 

If thou hadst not 

Been stern to me, 

But left me free, 
I had forgot 

Myself and thee. 

For sin'.> so sweet 

As minds ill bent 

Rarely repent 
Until they meet 

Their punishment. 

Who more can crave 
Than thou hast done? 
Thou gav'st a Son 

] To unders weeten. 


To free a slave, 

First made of nought, 
With all since bought. 

Sin, death, and hell 

His glorious name 

Quite overcame ; 
Yet I rebel, 

And slight the same. 

But I'll come in 

Before my loss 

Me farther toss, 
As sure to win 

Under his cross. 


I sing the birth was born to-night, 
The author both of life and light ; 

The angels so did sound it. 
And like the ravished shepherds said, 
Who saw the light, and were afraid, 

Yet searched, and true they found it. 

The Son of God, the eternal King, 
That did us all salvation bring, 

And freed the soul from danger ; 
lie whom the whole world could not take, 
The Word which heaven and earth did make, 

Was now laid in a manger. 

The Father's wisdom willed it so ; 
The Son's obedience knew no No ; 
Both wills were in one stature ; 
And, as that wisdom had decreed. 

The Word was now made flesh indeed, 
And took on him our nature. 

What comfort by him do we win. 
Who made himself the price of sin. 

To make us heirs of glory ! 
To see this babe, all innocence, 
A martyr horn in our defence! — 

Can man forget this story ? 


Somewhat formal and artificial, no doubt ; rugged 
at the same time, like him who wrote them. When 
a man would utter that concerning which he has only 
felt, not thought, he can express himself only in the 
forms he has been taught, conventional or traditional. 
Let his powers be ever so much developed in respect 
of other things, here, where he has not meditated, 
he must understand as a child, think as a child, 
speak as a child. He can as yet generate no sufficing 
or worthy form natural to himself. But the utterance 
is not therefore untrue. There was no professional 
bias to cause the stream of Ben Jonson's verses to 
flow in that channel. Indeed, feeling without thought, 
and the consequent combination of impulse to speak 
with lack of* matter, is the cause of much of that 
common-place utterance concerning things of religion 
which is so wearisome, but which therefore it is not 
always fair to despise as cant. the same age as Ben Jonson, though the 
date of his birth is unknown, I now come to men- 
tion Tiomas Heywood, a most voluminous writer of 
plays, who wrote also a book, chiefly in verse, called 
The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels, a strange work, 
in which, amongst much that is far from poetic, occur 
the folbwi ng remarkable metaphysico-religious ven 
He hac strong Platonic tendencies, interesting himself 
chiefly however in those questions afterwards pursued 
by Dr. Henry More, concerning witches and such like 
subject:, which may be called the shadow of Platonism. 

T have wandered like a sheep that's l< \ 

To find Thee out in every coast : 


Without I have long seeking bin, been. 

Whilst thou, the while, abid'st within. 

Through every broad street and strait lane 

Of this world's city, but in vain, 

1 have enquired. The reason why? 

I sought thee ill : for how could I 

Find thee abroad, when thou, mean space, 

Hadst made within thy dwelling-place? 

I sent my messengers about, 
To try if they could find thee out ; 
But all was to no purpose still, 
Because indeed they sought thee ill : 
For how could they discover thee 
That saw not when thou entered'st me ? 

Mine eyes could tell me ? Tf he were 
Not coloured, sure he came not there. 
If not by sound, my ears could say 
He doubtless did not pass my way. 
My nose could nothing of him tell, 
Because my God he did not smell. 
None such I relished, said my taste, 
And therefore me he never passed. 
My feeling told me that none such 
There entered, for he none did touch. 
Resolved by them how should I be, 
Since none of all these are in thee, 

In thee, my God ? Thou hast no hue 
That man's frail optic sense can view; 
No sound the ear hears ; odour none 
The smell attracts ; all taste is gone 
At thy appearance ; where doth fail 
A body, how can touch prevail? 
What even the brute beasts comprehend 

To think thee such, 1 should offend. 

Vet when I seek my God, I enquire 
For light than sun and 010011 much higher, 
More clear and splendrous, 'bow all light 
Which the eye receives not, 'tis so bright. 


I seek a voice beyond degree 
Of ail melodious harmony : 

The car conceives it not ; a smell 

Which doth all other scents excel : 

No flower so sweet, no myrrh, no nard, 

Or aloes, with it compared ; 

( )f which the brain not sensible is. 

I seek a sweetness — such a bliss 

As hath all other sweets surpassed, 

And never palate yet could taste. 

1 seek that to contain and hold 

No touch can feel, no embrace enfold. 

So far this light the rays extends, 

As that no place it comprehends. 

So deep this sound, that though it speak 

It cannot by a sense so weak 

He entertained. A redolent grace 

The air blows not from place to place. 

A pleasant taste, of that delight 

It doth confound all appetite. 

A strict embrace, not felt, yet leaves 

That virtue, where it takes it cleaves. 

This light, this sound, this savouring grace, 

This tasteful sweet, this strict embrace, 

No place contains, no eye can see, 

My God is, and there's none but he. 

Very remarkable verses from a dramatist ! They 
indicate substratum enough for any art if only the art 
be there. Even those who cannot enter into the phi- 
losophy of them, which ranks him among the mystics 
of whom I have yet to speak, will understand a good 
deal of it symbolically: for how could he be expected 
to keep his poetry and his philosophy distinct when 
of themselves they were so ready to run into one ; or 
in verse to define carefully betwixt degree and kind, 
when kinds themselves may rise by degrees ? To 

1 3 3 ENGL A ND 'S A N TIP HON. 

distinguish without separating ; to be able to see that 
what in their effects upon us are quite different, may 
yet be a grand flight of ascending steps, " to stop — no 
record hath told where," belongs to the philosopher 
who is not born mutilated, but is a poet as well. 

John Fletcher, likewise a dramatist, the author of 
the following poem, was two years younger than Ben 
Jonson. It is, so far as I am aware, the sole non- 
dramatic voice he has left behind him. Its opening 
is an indignant apostrophe to certain men of pre- 
tended science, who in his time were much consulted 
— the Astrologers. 


You that can look through heaven, and tell the stars; 
Observe their kind conjunctions, and their wars ; 
Find out new lights, and give them where you please — 
To those men honours, pleasures, to those ease ; 
You that are God's surveyors, and can show- 
How far, and when, and why the wind doth blow; 
Know all the charges of the dreadful thunder, 
And when it will shoot over, or fall under ; 
Tell me — by all your art 1 conjure ye — 
Yes, and by truth— what shall become of me. 
Find out my star, if each one, as you say, 
Have his peculiar angel, and his way ; 
Observe my fate ; next fall into your dreams ; 
Sweep clean your houses, and new-line your schemes ; ' 
Then say your w<>r-t. ( >r have I none at all? 
( )r is it burnt out lately ? or did f.dl ? 
Oram I poor? not able? no full flame? 
My star, like me, unworthy of a name? 

] He plays upon the astrological terms, houses and schemes. The 

logers divided the heavens into twelve houses; and the diagrams by 

which they represented the relative positions of the heavenly bodies, 

i hey called schemes. 


[s it your art can only work on those 
That deal with dangers, dignities, and clothes, 
With love, or new opinions? You all lie : 
A fishwife hath a fate, and so have I — 
But far above your finding, lie that gi 
Out of his providence. to all that lives 

And no man knows his treasure, no, not you ; — 

* * * *- * 

He that made all the stars you daily read, 
And from them filch a knowledge how to feed, 
I lath hid this from you. Your conjectures all 
Are drunken things, not how, but when they fall : 
Man is his own star, and the soul that can 
Render an honest, and a perfect man. 
Commands all light, all influence, all fate ; 
Nothing to him falls early, or too late. 
Our acts our angels are, or good or ill, 
( hir fatal shadows that walk by us still ; 
And when the stars are labouring, we believe 
It is not that they govern, but they grieve 
For stubborn ignorance. All things that are 
Made for our general uses, are at war — 
liven we among ourselves ; and from the strife 
Your first unlike opinions got a life. 
Oh man ! thou image of thy Maker's good, 
What canst thou fear, when breathed into thy blood 
His spirit is that built thee? What dull sen^e 
Makes thee suspect, in need, that Providence? 
Who made the morning, and who placed the light 
('.aide to thy labours? Who called up the night, 
And bid her fall upon thee like sweet showers 
In hollow murmurs, to lock up thy powers? 
Who gave thee knowledge? Who SO trusted thee. 
To let thee grow so near himself, the Tree ? ' 
Must he then be distrusted ? Shall his frame 
Discourse with him why thus and thus I am ? 
He made the angels thine, thy fellows all; 
Nay, even thy servants, when devotions call. 
()h ! canst thou be so stupid then, so dim, 
vk a saving influence, and lose him? 

1 The tree of know ledge. 


Can stars protect thee ? Or can poverty, 

Which is the light to heaven, put out his eye ? 

He is nry star; in him all truth I find, 

All influence, all fate ; and when my mind 

Is furnished with his fulness, my poor story 

Shall outlive all their age, and all their glory. 

The hand of danger cannot fall amiss 

When I know what, and in whose power it is ; 

Nor want, the cause 1 of man, shall make me groan : 

A holy hermit is a mind alone. 2 

Doth not experience teach us, all we can, 

To work ourselves into a glorious man ? 
-* •* * * 

My mistress then be knowledge and fair truth ; 

So I enjoy all beauty and all youth ! 
* ■/- * -* 

Affliction, when I know it, is but this — 
A deep alloy, whereby man tougher is 
To bear the hammer ; and the deeper still, 
We still arise more image of his will ; 
Sickness, an humorous cloud 'twixt us and light ; 
And death, at longest, but another night. 
Man is his own star, and that soul that can 
Be honest, is the only perfect man. 

There is a tone of contempt in the verses which is 
not religious ; but they express a true philosophy 
and a triumph of faith in God. The word honest is 
lie re equivalent to true. 

I am not certain whether I may not now be calling 
up a singer whose song will appear hardly to justify 
liis presence in the choir. But its teaching is of 
high import, namely, of content and cheerfulness 
and courage, and being both worth}' and melodious, 

1 Dyce, following Seward, substitutes curse. 

- A glimmer <>( that Platonism of which, happily, we have so much 

iiiorc in the seventeenth century. 


it gravitates heavenward. The singer is yet another 

dramatist : I presume him to be Thomas Dekker. I 
cannot be certain, because others were concerned with 
him in the writing of the drama from which I take it. 
He it is who, in an often-quoted passage, styles our 
Lord "The first true gentleman that ever breathed;" 
just as Chaucer, in a poem I have given, calls him 
" The first stock-father of gentleness." 
We may call the little lyric 


Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumber- ? 

Oh, sweet content ! 

Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed? 

Oh, punishment ! 
I lost thou laugh to see how fools are vexed 
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers? 
Oh, sweet content ! 
Chorus. — Work apace, apace, apace, apace ; 
Honest labour bears a lovely face. 

Canst drink the waters of the crisped spring? 
Oh, sweet content ! 
Swimm'st thou in wealth, yet sink'st in thine own tear- ? 

Oh, punishment ! 
Then he that patiently want's burden bears, 
No burden bears, but is a king, a king ! 
( )li, sweet content ! 
Chorus. — Work apace, apace, apace, apace ; 
Honest labour bears a lovely face. 

It is a song of the poor in spirit, whose is the 
kingdom of heaven. But if my co-listeners prefer. 
we will call it the voice, not of one who sings in the 
choir, but of one who " tunes his instrument at the 



Sir JOHN Beaumont, born in 1582, elder brother 
to the dramatist who wrote along with Fletcher, has 
left amongst his poems a few fine religious ones. 
From them I choose the following : 


Fair eastern star, that art ordained to run 

Before the sages, to the rising sun, 

Here cease thy course, and wonder that the cloud 

< ){ this poor -table can thy Maker shroud : 

Ye, heavenly bodies, glory to be bright, 

And are esteemed a- \e are rich in light ; 

But here on earth is taught a different way, 

Since under this low roof the highest lay. 

Jerusalem erects her stately towers, 

Displays her windows, and adorns her bower- ; 

Yet there thou must not cast a trembling spark : 

Let Herod's palace still continue dark; 

Each school and synagogue thy force repels, 

There Pride, enthroned in misty error-, dwells; 

The temple, where the priests maintain their choir, 

Shall taste no beam of thy celestial tire, 

While this weak cottage all thy splendour take- : 

A joyful gate of every chink it makes. 


Here shines no golden roof, no ivory stair, 

No king exalted in a stately chair, 

Girt with attendants, or by heralds styled, 

But straw and hay enwrap a speechless child ; 

Yet Sabae's lords before this babe unfold 

Their treasures, offering incense, myrrh, and gold. 

The crib becomes an altar : therefore dies 

No ox nor sheep ; for in their fodder lies 

The Prince of Peace, who, thankful for his bed, 

Destroys those rites in which their blood was shed : 

The quintessence of earth he takes and 1 fees, 

And precious gums distilled from weeping trees ; 

Rich metals and sweet odours now declare 

The glorious blessings which his laws prepare, 

To clear us from the base and loathsome flood 

Of sense, and make us fit for angels' food, 

Who lift to God for us the holy smoke 

Of fervent prayers with which we him invoke, 

And try our actions in that searching fire, 

By which the seraphims our lips inspire : 

Xo muddy dross pure minerals shall infect, 

We shall exhale our vapours up direct : 

Xo storms shall cross, nor glittering lights deface 

Perpetual sighs which seek a happy place. 

The creatures, no longer offered on his altar, stand- 
ing around the Prince of Life, to whom they have 
n a bed, is a lovely idea. The end is hardly 
worthy of the rest, though there is tine thought in- 
volved in it. 

The following contains an utterance of personal 
experience, the truth of which will be recognized by 
all to whom heavenly aspiration and needful disap- 
pointment are not unknown. 

1 Should this be "in fees ;" that is, in acknowledgment of his feudal 
sovereignty ? 



thou who sweetly bend'st my stubborn will, 
Who send'st thy stripes to teach and not to kill ! 
Thy cheerful face from me no longer hide ; 
Withdraw these clouds, the scourges of my pride ; 

1 sink to hell, if I be lower thrown : 
I see what man is, being left alone. 

My substance, which from nothing did begin, 

Is worse than nothing by the weight of sin : 

I see myself in such a wretched state 

As neither thoughts conceive, nor words relate. 

How great a distance parts us ! for in thee 

Is endless good, and boundless ill in me. 

All creatures prove me abject, but how low 

Thou only know'st, and teachest me to know. 

To paint this baseness, nature is too base ; 

This darkness yields not but to beams of grace. 

Where shall I then this piercing splendour find ? 

Or found, how shall it guide me, being blind ? 

Grace is a taste of bliss, a glorious gift, 

Which can the soul to heavenly comforts lift : 

It will not shine to me, whose mind is drowned 

In sorrows, and with worldly troubles bound ; 

it will not deign within that house to dwell, 

Where dryness reigns, and proud distractions swell. 

Perhaps it sought me in those lightsome days 

Of my first fervour, when few winds did raise 

The waves, and ere they could full strength obtain, 

Some whispering gale straight charmed them down again ; 

When all seemed calm, and yet the Virgin's child 

On my devotions in his manger smiled; 

While tlun I simply walked, nor heed could take 

Of complacence, that sly, deceitful snake; 

When yet I had not dangerously refused 

So many calls to virtue, nor abused 

The spring of life, which I so oft enjoyed, 

Nor made SO many good intentions void, 

Deserving thus that grace should quite depart, 

And dreadful hardness should possess my heart : 


Yet in that state this only good I found, 

That fewer spot- did then my conscience wound ; 

Though who can censure whether, in those times, judge. 

The want of feeling seemed the want of crimes? 

If solid virtues dwell not but in pain, 

I will not wish that golden age again 

Because it flowed with sensible delights 

Of heavenly things : God hath created nights 

A- well as days, to deck the varied globe; 

(irace comes as oft clad in the dusky robe 

Of desolation, as in white attire, 

Which better fits the bright celestial choir. 

Some in foul seasons perish through despair, 

But more through boldness when the days are fair. 

This then must be the medicine for my woes — 

To yield to what my Saviour shall dispose; 

To glory in my baseness ; to rejoice 

In mine afflictions; to obey his voice, 

A- well when threatenings my defects reprove, 

As when I cherished am with words of love ; 

To say to him, in every time and place, 

" Withdraw thy comforts, so thou leave thy grace." 

Surely this is as genuine an utterance, whatever its 
merits as a poem — and those I judge not small — as 
ever flowed from Christian heart ! 

Clyefly for the sake of its beauty, I give the last 
passage of a poem written upon occasi n of the 
>ts of the Annunciation and tl rrection 

falling oil 

i .. faithful uls this double feast attei 
In two pi ] 

rs, and with a downcai 
Upon th< lie : 

In creepii 

Their humble thoughts and every pur 
The otl hall climb, with s 

rich degree 
S.L. IV, L 


In glowing roses fervent zeal they bear, 
And in the azure flower-de-lis appear 
Celestial contemplations, which aspire 
Above the sky, up to the immortal choir. 

William Drummond of Hawthornden, a Scotch- 
man, born in 1585, may almost be looked upon as 
the harbinger of a fresh outburst of word-music. No 
doubt all the great poets have now and then broken 
forth in lyrical jubilation. Ponderous Ben Jonson 
himself, when he takes to song, will sing in the joy of 
the very sound ; but great men have always so much 
graver work to do, that they comparatively seldom 
indulge in this kind of melody. Drummond excels 
in madrigals, or canzonets — baby-odes or songs — 
which have more of wing and less of thought than 
sonnets. Through the greater part of his verse we 
hear a certain muffled tone of the sweetest, like the 
music that ever threatens to break out clear from 
the brook, from the pines, from the rain-shower, — 
never does break out clear, but remains a suggested, 
etherially vanishing tone. His is a voix voilcc, or 
veiled voice of song. It is true that in the time we 
arc now approaching far more attention was paid not 
merely to the smoothness but to the melody of verse 
than any except the great masters had paid before ; 
but some are at the door, who, not being great 
masters, yet do their inferior part nearly as well as 
they their higher, uttering a music of marvellous and 
individual sweetness, which no mere musical care could 
secure, but which springs essentially from music in the 
thought gathering to itself musical words in melodious 


division, and thus fashioning for itself a fitting body. 
The melody of their verse is all their own — as original 
as the greatest art-forms of the masters. Of Drum- 
mond, then, here are two sonnets on the Nativity ; 
the first spoken by the angels, the second by the 

The Angels. 

Run, shepherds, run where Bethlehem blest appears. 

We bring the best of news ; be not dismayed : 
A Saviour there is born more old than years, 

Amidst heaven's rolling height this earth who stayed. 

In a poor cottage inned, a virgin maid 
A weakling did him bear, who all upbears; 

There is he poorly swaddled, in manger laid, 
To whom too narrow swaddlings are our spheres : 
Run, shepherds, run, and solemnize his birth. 

This is that night — no, day, grown great with bliss, 

In which the power of Satan broken is : 
In heaven be glory, peace unto the earth ! 

Thus singing, through the air the angels swam, 

And cope of stars re-echoed the same. 

The Shepherds. 

() than the fairest day, thrice fairer night ! 

Night to best days, in which a sun doth rise 

Of which that gulden eye which clears the skies 
Is but a sparkling ray, a shadow light ! 
And blessed ye, in silly pastors' sight, simple. 

Mild creatures, in whose warm 1 crib now lies 
That heaven-sent youngling, holy-maid-born wight, 

Midst, end, beginning of our prophecies ! 
Blest cottage that hath flowers in winter spread ! 

Though withered bl »s, that hath the grace 

To deck and be a carpet to that place ! 
Thus sang, unto the sounds of oaten reed, 

Before the babe, the shepherds bowed on kl 

And springs ran nectar, honey dropped from trees. 

1 Warm is here elongated, almost treated as a dissyllable. 

I. 2 


No doubt there is a touch of the conventional in 
these. Especially in the close of the last there is 
an attempt to glorify the true by the homage of 
the false. But verses which make us feel the marvel 
afresh — the marvel visible and credible by the depth 
of its heart of glory — make us at the same time 
easily forget the discord in themselves. 

The following, not a sonnet, although it looks like 
one, measuring the lawful fourteen lines, is the closing 
paragraph of a poem he calls A Hymn to tlic Fairest Fair. 

O king, whose greatness none can comprehend, 

Whose boundless goodness doth to all extend ! 

Light of all beauty ! ocean without ground, 

That standing flowest, giving dost abound ! 

Rich palace, and indweller ever blest, 

Never not working, ever yet in rest ! 

What wit cannot conceive, words say of thee, 

Here, where, as in a mirror, we but see 

Shadows of shadows, atoms of thy might, 

Still owly-eyed while staring on thy light, 

Grant that, released from this earthly jail, 

And freed of clouds which here our knowledge veil, 

In heaven's high temples, where thy praises ring, 

I may in sweeter notes hear angels sing. 

That is, " May I in heaven hear angels sing what wit 
cannot conceive here." 

Drummond 1 in nobility of speech, and espe- 

cially in the fine line and phrase, so justly but dispro- 
portionately prized in the present day, I rive an 
instance of each : 

1 1( re do seraphim 
Burn with immortal love; there cherubim 

eaglets in the sun, delight their sight. 


Like to a lightning through the welkin hurled, 
That scores with (James the way, and every eye 
Willi terror dazzles as it swimmeth by. 

Here arc six fine verses, in the heroic couplet, from 
An Hymn of the Resurrection. 

So a small seed that in the earth lies hid 
And dies — reviving bursts her cloddy side ; 
Adorned with yellow locks, of new is born, 
And doth become a mother great with corn ; 
Of grains bring hundreds with it, which when old 
Enrich the furrows with a sea of gold. 

But I must content myself now with a little ma- 
drigal, the only one fit for my purpose. Those which 
would best support what I have said of his music are 
not of the kind we want. Unfortunately, the end of 
this one is not equal to the beginning. 


New doth the sun appear ; 

The mountains' snows decay ; 
Crowned with frail flowers comes forth the baby J 

My soul, time posts away; 

And thou yet in that frost, 

Which flower and fruit hath lost, 
As if all here immortal were, dost stay ! 

For shame ! thy powers awake ; 
Look to that heaven which never night makes Mack ; 
And there, at that immortal sun's bright rays, 
Deck thee with ilowers which fear not rage of da 



I NOW come to make mention of two gifted bro- 
thers, Giles and Phineas Fletcher, both clergymen, 
the sons of a clergyman and nephews to the Bishop 
of Bristol, therefore the cousins of Fletcher the 
dramatist, a poem by whom I have already given. 
Giles, the eldest, is supposed to have been born in 
1588. From his poem Christ's Victory and Triumph, 
I select three passages. 

To understand the first, it is necessary to explain 
that while Christ is on earth a dispute between Justice 
and Mercy, such as is often represented by the theo- 
logians, takes place in heaven. We must allow the 
unsuitable fiction attributing distraction to the divine 
Unity, for the sake of the words in which Mercy 
overthrows the arguments of Justice. For the poet 
unintentionally nullifies the symbolism of the theo- 
logian, representing Justice as defeated. He forgets 
that the grandest exercise of justice is mere}'. The 
confusion comes from the fancy that justice means 
vengeance upon si//, and not the doing of what is right 
Justice can be at no strife with mercy, for not to do 
what is just would be most unmerciful. 


Merc\- first sums up the arguments Justice has 
been employing against her, in the following stanza : 

He was but dust ; why feared he not to fall? 

And being fallen how can he hope to live? 
Cannot the hand destroy him that made all? 

Could he not take away as well as give? 

Should man deprave, and should not God deprive? 
Was it not all the world's deceiving spirit 
(That, bladdered up with pride of his own merit, 
Fell in his rise) that him of heaven did disinherit? 

To these she then proceeds to make reply : 

He was but dust: how could he stand before him? 

And being fallen, why should he fear to die? 
Cannot the hand that made him first, restore him? 

Depraved of sin, should he deprived lie 

Of grace? Can he not find infirmity 
That gave him strength? — Unworthy the forsaking 
He is, whoever weighs (without mistaking) 
Or maker of the man or manner of his making. 1 

Who shall thy temple incense any more, 

Or to thy altar crown the sacrifice, 
Or strew with idle flowers the hallowed floor ? 

Or what should prayer deck with herbs and spice, why. 

Her vials breathing orisons of price, 
Tf all must pay that which all cannot pay? 
() first begin with me, and Mercy slay, 
And thy thrice honoured Son, that now beneath doth s 

But if or he or I may live and speak, 

And heaven can joy to see a sinner weep, 

( >h ! let not Justice' iron sceptre break 

A heart already broke, that low doth creep, 

And with prone humbless her feet's dust doth sweep. 

Must all go by desert? Is nothing free? 

Ah ! if but those that only worthy be. 
None should thee ever see ! none should thee ever see ! 

1 <; He ought not to be forsaken: whoever weighs the matter rightly, 
will come to this conclusion." 


What hath man done that man shall not undo, 

Since God to him is grown so near akin ? 
Did his foe slay him ? He shall slay his foe. 

Hath he lost all ? He all again shall win. 

Is sin his master ? He shall master sin. 
Too hardy soul, with sin the field to try ! 
The only way to conquer was to fly ; 
Hut thus long death hath lived, and now death's self shall die. 

I [e is a path, if any be misled ; 

I Ie is a robe, if any naked be ; 
If any chance to hunger, he is bread ; 

If any be a bondman, he is free ; 

If any be but weak, how strong is he ! 
To dead men life he is, to sick men health, 
To blind men sight, and to the needy wealth ; 
A pleasure without loss, a treasure without stealth. 

Who can forget — never to be forgot — 

The time that all the world in slumber lies, 

When like the stars the singing angels shot 
To earth, and heaven awaked all his eyes 
To see another sun at midnight rise? 

On earth was never sight of peril fame ; pareil: t 

For God before man like himself did frame, 
But God himself now like a mortal man became. 

The angels carolled loud their song of peace ; 

The cursed oracles were stricken dumb ; 
To see their Shepherd the poor shepherds press ; 

To see their King, the kingly Sophies come ; 

And them to guide unto his master's home, 
A star comes dancing up the orient, 
That springs for joy over the strawy tent. 

Where gold, to make their prince a crown, they all present. 

No doubt there arc here touches of execrable taste, 

such as the punning trick with man and maimers, 
suggesting a false antithesis ; or the opposition of 
the words deprave and deprive; but we have in them 


only an instance of how the meretricious may co-e: 
with the lovely. The passage is fine and powerful, 
notwithstanding its faults and obscurities. 
Here is another yet more beautiful : 

So down the silver streams of Eridan, 1 

( )n cither side banked with a lily wall, 
Whiter than both, rides the triumphant swan, 

And sings his dirge, and prophesies his fall, 

Diving into his watery funeral ! 
But Eridan to Cedron must submit 
His flowery shore ; nor can he envy it, 
If, when Apollo sings, his swans do silent sit 2 

That heavenly voice I more delight to hear 

Than gentle airs to breathe ; or swelling waves 

Against the sounding rocks their bosoms tc 
( )r whistling reeds that rutty 4 Jordan I 
And with their verdure his white head embraves ; ad 

1 The Eridan is the Po. — As regards classical allusions in con- 
nexion with sacred things, I would remind my reader of the \ 
reverence our ancestors had for the classics, from the influence they had 
had in reviving the literature of the country. — I need hardly remind 
him of the commonly-received fancy that the swan does sing on 
just as his death draws nigh. Does this come from the legend of 
Cycnus changed into a swan while lamenting the death of his fi 
Phaeton? or was that legend founded on the yet old The 


- The poet refers to the singing of the hymn before our Lord -. 
to the garden by the brook Cedron. 

:: The construction • just from the insertion of the to 

V, where it ought not to be after the \ 
not mean that he delights to hear that voice more than to breathe g i 

at more than to hear gentle airs (to) breathe. oder- 

stood, governs all the infinitives that follow ; among th 
{to) chide. 

4 Rut i> used for the sound of the tide in Che-hire. | 
Dictionary. ttty mean roaring? <>r does it describe the d 

rugged shore> of the Jordan ? 


To chide the winds ; or hiving bees that fly 
About the laughing blossoms/ of sallowy, 2 
Rocking asleep the idle grooms 3 that lazy lie. 

And yet how can I hear thee singing go, 

When men, incensed with hate, thy death foreset ? 

Or else, why do I hear thee sighing so, 

When thou, inflamed with love, their life dost get, 4 
That love and hate, and sighs and songs are met ? 

But thus, and only thus, thy love did crave 

To send thee singing for us to thy grave, 
While we sought thee to kill, and thou sought'st us to save. 

When I remember Christ our burden bears, 

I look for glory, but find misery ; 
I look for joy, but find a sea of tears ; 

I look that we should live, and find him die ; 

I look for angels' songs, and hear him cry : 
Thus what I look, I cannot find so well ; 
Or rather, what I find I cannot tell, 
These banks so narrow are, those streams so highly swell. 

We would gladly eliminate the few common-place 
allusions ; but we must take them with the rest of 
the passage. Besides far higher merits, it is to my 
ear most melodious. 

One more passage of two stanzas from Giles 
Fletcher, concerning the glories of heaven: I quote 
them for the sake of earth, not of heaven. 

Gaze but upon the house where man embowers : 
With flowers and rushes paved is his way ; 

Where all the creatures are his servitours: 
The winds do sweep his chambers every day, 
And clouds do wash his rooms ; the ceiling gay, 

1 A monosyllable, contracted afterwards into bloom. - Willows. 

:; Groom originally means just a man. It was a word much used 
when pastoral poetry was Lhe fashion. Spenser has herd-grooms in his 
Shepherd's Calendar. This last is what it means here: shepherds. 

tain, save. 


Starred aloft, the gilded knobs embrave: 
If such a house God to another gave, 
II >'.\ shine those glittering courts he for himself will have ! 

And if a sullen cloud, as sad as night, 

In which the sun may seem embodied, 
Depured of all his dross, we see so white, 

Burning in melted ^<>ld his watery head, 

Or round with ivory edges silvered ; 
What lustre super-excellent will he 
Lighten on those that shall his sunshine see 
In that all-glorious court in which all glories he ! 

These brothers were intense admirers of Spenser. 
To be like him Phineas must write an allegory ; 
and such an allegory ! Of all the strange poems in 
existence, surely this is the strangest. The Purple 
Is/a nd is man, whose body is anatomically described 
after the allegory of a city, which is then peopled 
with all the human faculties personified, each set 
in motion by itself. They say the anatomy is cor- 
rect : the metaphysics are certainly good. The action 
of the poem is just another form of the Holy War 
of John Bunyan — all the good and bad powers 
fighting for the possession of the Purple Island. 
What renders the conception yet more amazing is the 
fact that the whole ponderous mass of anatomy and 
metaphysics, nearly as long as the Paradise Los/, 
is put as a song, in a succession of twelve cantos, 
in the mouth of a shepherd, who begins a canto every 
morning to the shepherds and shepherdesses oi the 
neighbourhood, and finishes it by folding-time in the 
evening. And yet the poem is full of poetry, lie 
triumphs over his difficulties partly by audacity, partly 
by seriousness, partly by the enchantment o\ song. 


But the poem will never be read through except by 
students of English literature. It is a whole ; its 
members are well-fitted ; it is full of beauties — in 
parts they swarm like fire-flies ; and yet it is not a 
good poem. It is like a well-shaped house, built of 
mud, and stuck full of precious stones. I do not care, 
in ni)' limited space, to quote from it. Never was 
there a more incongruous dragon of allegory. 

Both brothers were injured, not by their worship of 
Spenser, but by the form that worship took — imitation. 
They seem more pleased to produce a line or stanza 
that shall recall a line or stanza of Spenser, than to pro- 
duce a fine original of their own. They even copy lines 
almost word for word from their great master. This 
is pure homage : it was their delight that such adapta- 
tions should be recognized — just as it was Spenser's 
hope, when he inserted translated stanzas from Tasso's 
Jerusalem Delivered in The Fairy Queen, to gain the 
honour of a true reproduction. Yet, strange fate for 
imitators ! both, but Giles especially, were imitated by 
a greater than their worship — even by Milton. They 
make Spenser's worse : Milton makes theirs better. 
They imitate Spenser, faults and all : Milton glorifies 
their beauties. 

From the smaller poems of Phineas, I choose the 
following version of 


From the <]w]>>, of grief and fear, 

Lord, to thee my sou! repairs : 
From thy heaven bow down thine car; 

Let thy mercy meet my prayers. 


Oli ! if ihou mark'st what's done ami 
What soul so pure can see thy bli 

But with thee sweet Mercy stands. 

Sealing pardons, working fear. 
Wait, my soul, wait on his hands ; 

Wait, mine eye ; oli ! wait, mine ear : 
If he his eye or tongue affords, 
Watch all his looks, catch all his words. 

As a watchman waits for da}-, 

looks for light, and looks again : 
When the night grows old and gray, 

To be relieved he calls amain : 
So look, so wait, so long, mine eyes, 
To see my Lord, my sun, arise. 

Wait, ye saints, wait on our Lord, 

For from his tongue sweet mercy flows ; 

Wait on his cross, wait on his word ; 
Upon that tree redemption grov 

He will redeem his Israel 

From sin and wrath, from death and hell. 

I shall now give two stanzas of his version of the 
i 27th Psalm. 

If God build not the house, and lay 

The groundwork sure — whoever build, 
It cannot stand one st 

;d be not the city's shield, 
If he be not their bars and 

watch-tower, men, and all. 

Though then th 

thou daily I 
I thou undi 
. is child will 

curtains to his sl< 

Compare this with a version of the same portion 
by Dr. Henry King, Bishop of Chichester, who, no 


great poet, lias written some good verse. He was 
about the same age as Phineas Fletcher. 

Except the Lord the house sustain, 
The builder's labour is in vain ; 
Except the city he defend, 
And to the dwellers safety send, 
In vain are sentinels prepared, 
Or armed watchmen for the guard. 

You vainly with the early light 

Arise, or sit up late at night 

To find support, and daily eat 

Yonr bread with sorrow earned and sweat ; 

When God, who his beloved keeps, 

This plenty gives with quiet sleeps. 

What difference do we find ? That the former has 
the more poetic touch, the latter the greater truth. 
The former has just lost the one precious thing in the 
psalm ; the latter has kept it : that care is as useless 
as painful, for God gives us while we sleep, and not 
while we labour. 



GEORGE Wither, born in 1588, therefore about the 
same age as Giles Fletcher, was a very different sort 
of writer indeed. There could hardly be a greater con- 
trast. Fancy, and all her motley train, were scarcely 
known to Wither, save by the hearing of the ears. 

He became an eager Puritan towards the close of 
his life, but his poetry chiefly belongs to the earlier 
part of it. Throughout it is distinguished by a 
certain straight forward simplicity of good English 
thought and English word. His hymns remind me, 
in the form of their speech, of Gascoigne. I shall 
quote but little ; for, although there is a sweet calm 
and a great justice of reflection and feeling, there is 
hardly anything of that warming glow, that rousing 
force, that impressive weight in his verse, which is 
the chief virtue of the lofty rhyme. 

The best in a volume of ninety Hymns and Songs 
of the Churchy is, I think, The Author's Hymn at the 
close, of which I give three stanzas. They manifest 
the simplicity and truth of the man, reflecting in their 
very tone his faithful, contented, trustful nature. 


By thy grace, those passions, troubles, 

And those wants that me opprest, 
Have appeared as water-bubbles, 

Or as dreams, and things in jest : 
For, thy leisure still attending, 
I with pleasure saw their ending. 

Those afflictions and those terrors, 

Which to others grim appear, 
Did but show me where my errors 

And my imperfections were ; 
But distrustful could not make me 
( jf thy love, nor fright nor shake me. 

Those base hopes that would possess me, 

And those thoughts of vain repute 
Which do now and then oppress me, 

Do not, Lord, to me impute ; 
And though part they will not from me, 
Let them never overcome me. 

He has written another similar volume, but much 
larger, and of a somewhat extraordinary character. 
It consists of no fewer than two hundred and thirty- 
three hymns, mostly long, upon an incredible variety 
of subjects, comprehending one for every season of 

ire and of the church, and one for every occur- 
rence in lif ithor could think 
tl man or woman. Of these subj< 
I quote a f w ol re remarkable, but even from 
them my reader can have little conception of the 
variety in the bod-. : A Hymn whilst we are wash- 

; In a clear starry h ight ; - / Hymn for a House* 
rming ; After a great Frost or Snow; For one 

se Beauty is much praised ; For one upbraided 
with Deformity; For a Widower or a Widow deli- 


vered from a troublesome Yokefellow ; For a Cripple; 

For a Jailor ; For a Poet. 

Here is a portion of one which I hope may be 
helpful to some of my readers. 


What ails my heart, that in my breast 

It thus unquiet lies ; 
And that it now of needful rest 

Deprives my tired eyes ? 

Let not vain hopes, griefs, doubts, or fears, 

Distemper so my mind ; 
But cast on God thy thoughtful cares, 

And comfort thou shalt find. 

In vain that soul attempteth ought, 

And spends her thoughts in vain, 
Who by or in herself hath sought 

Desired peace to gain. 

On thee, O Lord, on thee therefore, 

My musings now I place ; 
Thy free remission I implore, 

And thy refreshing grace. 

Forgive thou me, that when my mind 

( Oppressed began to : 
I sought elsewhere my p ace to find, 

Before I came to thee. 

And, gracious God, vouchsafe to grant, 

Unworthy though I am, 
The needful rest which now I want, 

That I may praise thy name. 

Before examining the volume, one would say that 
no man could write so many hymns without frequent 

S.L. IV. M 


and signal failure. But the marvel here is, that the 
hymns are all so very far from bad. He can never 
have written in other than a gentle mood. There 
must have been a fine harmony in his nature, that 
kept him, as it were. This pcacefulness makes him 
interesting in spite of his comparative flatness. 1 
must restrain remark, however, and give five out of 
twelve stanzas of another of his hymns. 


Sweet baby, sleep : what ails my dear ? 

What ails my darling thus to cry ? 
Be still, my child, and lend thine ear 

To hear me sing thy lullaby. 
My pretty lamb, forbear to weep ; 
Be still, my dear; sweet baby, sleep. 

Whilst thus thy lullaby I sing, 

For thee great blessings ripening be ; 
Thine eldest brother is a king, 

And hath a kingdom bought for thee. 
Sweet baby, then forbear to weep ; 
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep. 

A little infant onec was he, 

And strength in weakness then was laid 

Upon his virgin mother's knee, 

That power to thee might be conveyed. 

Sweet baby, then forbear to weep; 

Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep. 

Within a manger lodged thy Lord, 

Where oxen lay, and asses fed ; 
Warm rooms we do In thee afford, 

An ensy Cradle Or :i bed. 
Sweet baby, then forbear to weep ; 
Be still, my babe ; sweet baby, sleep. 


Thou hast, yet more to perfect this, 

A promise and an earnest got, 
Of gaining everlasting bliss, 

Though thou, my babe, perceiv'st it not. 
Sweet baby, then forbear to weep ; 
Be still, my babe; sweet baby, sleep. 

I think George Wither's verses will grow upon the 
reader of them, tame as they are sure to appear at 
first. His Hallelujah, or Britain's Second Remem- 
brancer, from which I have been quoting, is well 
worth possessing, and can be procured without 

We now come to a new sort, both of man and poet 
— still a clergyman. It is an especial pleasure to 
write the name of Robert Herrick amongst the poets 
of religion, for the very act records that the jolly, 
careless Anacreon of the church, with his head and 
heart crowded with pleasures, threw down at length 
his wine-cup, tore the roses from his head, and knelt 
in the dust. 

Nothing bears Herrick's name so unrefined as the 
things Ur. Donne wrote in his youth ; but the impres- 
sion made by his earlier poems is of a man of far 
shallower nature, and greatly more absorbed in the 
delights of the passing hour. In the year [648, when 
he was fifty-seven years of age, being prominent as a 
Royalist, he was ejected from his living by the domi- 
nant Puritans ; and in that same year he published his 
poems, of which the latter part and later written is his 
Noble Numbers, or religious poems. We may wonder 
at his publishing the Hesperides along with them, but 
we must not forget that, while the manners of a time 

M 2 


are never to be taken as a justification of what is wrong, 
the judgment of men concerning what is wrong will be 
greatly influenced by those manners — not necessarily 
on the side of laxity. It is but fair to receive his 
own testimony concerning himself, offered in these 
two lines printed at the close of his Hcspcridcs: 

To his book's end this last line he'd have placed : 
Jocund his muse was, but Jiis life was chaste. 

We find the same artist in the Noble Numbers as in 
the Hesperides, but hardly the same man. However 
far he may have been from the model of a clergyman 
in the earlier period of his history, partly no doubt 
from the society to which his power of song made him 
acceptable, I cannot believe that these later poems 
;trc the results of mood, still less the results of mere 
professional bias, or even sense of professional duty. 

In a good many of his poems he touches the heart 
of truth ; in others, even those of epigrammatic form, 
he must be allowed to fail in point as well as in 
meaning. As to his art-forms, he is guilty of great 
"iiccs, the result of the same passion for lawless 
-res and similitudes which Dr. Donne so freely 
indulged. But his verses are brightened by a certain 
almost childishly quaint and innocent humour ; while 
the tenderness of some of them rises on the reader 
like the aurora of the coming sun of George Herbert. 
I do not forget that, even if some of his poems were 
printed in 1639, years before that George Herbert 
had clone his work and gone home : my figure stands 
m relation to the order I have adopted. 


Some of his verse is homelier than even George 
Herbert's homeliest. One of its most remarkable 
traits is a quaint thanksgiving fur the commonest 
things by name — not the less real that it is some- 
times even queer. For instance: 

God gives not only corn for Deed, 
But likewise superabundant seed ; 
Bread for our service, bread for show ; 
Meat for our meals, and fragments too : 
He gives not poorly, taking some 
Between the finger and the thumb, 
Dut for our glut, and for our store, 
Fine flour pressed down, ami running o'er. 

Here is another, delightful in its oddity. We can 
fancy the merry yet gracious poet chuckling over the 
vision of the child and the fancy of his words. 


Here a little child I stand, 

Heaving up my either hand ; 

Cold as paddocks though they be, frogs. 

I [ere I lift them up to thee, 

For a benison to fall 

On our meat, and on us all. Amen. 

I shall now give two or three of his longer poems, 
which are not long, and then a few of his short ones. 
The best known is the following, but it is not so well 
known that I must therefore omit it. 


In the hour of my distress, 
When temptations me op; 
And when I my sins ecu: 

Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 


When I lie within my bed, 
Sick in heart, and sick in head, 
And with doubts discomforted, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the house doth sigh and weep, 
And the world is drowned in sleep, 
Vet mine eyes the watch do keep, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the artless doctor sees without skill. 

No one hope, but of his fees, 
And his skill runs on the lees, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When his potion and his pill, 
His or none or little skill, 
Meet for nothing but to kill, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the passing-bell doth toll, 
And the furies in a shoal 
Come to fright a parting soul, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the tapers now burn blue, 
And the comforters are few, 
And that number more than true, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the priest his last hath prayed. 
And I nod to what is .said, 
'Cause my speech is now decayed, 
vSweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When God knows I'm tossed about, 
Either with despair or doubt, 
Yet, before the glass be out, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the tempter me pursu'th 
With the sins of all my youth, 

And half damns me with untruth, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 


When the flames and hellish cries 
Fright mine ears and fright mine eyes, 
And all terrors me surprise, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

When the judgment is revealed, 
And that opened which was sealed ; 
When to thee I have appealed, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 


In this world, the Isle of Dreams, 
While we sit by sorrow's streams, 
Tears and terrors are our themes, 
Reciting ; 

But when once from hence we fly, 
More and more approaching nigh 
Unto young eternity, 

Uniting ; 

In that whiter island, where 
Things are evermore sincere ; 
Candour here and lustre there, 

Delighting : 

There no monstrous fancies shall 
Out of hell an horror call, 
To create, or cause at all, 


There, in calm and cooling sleep 
We our eyes shall never steep, 
But eternal watch shall keep, 


Pleasures such as shall pursue 
Me immortalized and you ; 
And fresh joys, as never too 

Have ending. 



Thou bid'st me come away ; 
And I'll no longer stay 
Than for to shed some tears 
For faults of former years ; 
And to repent some crimes 
Done in the present times; 
And next, to take a bit 
Of bread, and wine with it; 
To don my robes of love, 
Fit for the place above ; 
To gird my loins about 
With charity throughout, 
And so to travel hence 
With feet of innocence : 
These done, I'll only cry, 
" God, mercy ! " and so die. 


O years and age, farewell ! 

Behold I go 

Where I do know 
Infinity to dwell. 

And these mine eyes shall see 
All times, how they 
Are lost i' th' sea 

Of vast eternity, 

Where never moon shall sway 
The stars ; but she 
And night shall be 

Drowned in one endless day. 

When winds and seas do rage, 

And threaten to undo me, 

Thou dost their \vr;,lli assuage, 
If I but call unto thee. 


A mighty storm last night 

Did seek my soul to swallow; 
But by the peep of light 

:ntle calm did fullow. 

What Deed I then despair 

Though ills stand round about me; 
Since mischiefs neither dare 

To bark or bite without thee? 


Lord, I am like to mistletoe, 
Which has no root, and cannot grow 
Or prosper, but by that same tree 
It clings about : so I by thee. 
What need I then to fear at all 
So long as I about thee crawl ? 
But if that tree should fall and die, 
Tumble shall heaven, and down will I. 

Here are now a few chosen from many that — to 
borrow a term from Crashaw — might be called 


God, when he's angry here with any one, 

I [is wrath is free from perturbation ; 

And when we think his looks are sour and grim, 

The alteration is in us, not him. 

God can't be wrathful ; but we may conclude 

Wrathful he may be by similitude : 

G I'swi ithful said to be when he doth do 

That without wrath, which wrath doth force US to. 

'Tis hard to find God ; but to comprehend 
Him as he is, is labour without end. 


God's rod doth watch while men do sleep, and then 
The rod doth sleep while vigilant are men. 

A man's trangression God does then remit, 
When man he makes a penitent for it. 

God, when he takes my goods and chattels hence, 

Gives me a portion, giving patience : 

What is in God is God : if so it be 

He patience gives, he gives himself to me. 

Humble we must be, if to heaven we go ; 
High is the roof there, but the gate is low. 

God who's in heaven, will hear from thence, 
If not to the sound, yet to the sense. 

The same who crowns the conqueror, will be 
A coadjutor in the agon). 

God is so potent, as his power can that. 

Draw out of bad a sovereign good to man. 

Paradise is, as from the learn d I gather, 
A choir of blest souls circling in the Father. 

Heaven is not given for our good works here; 
Yet it is given to the labourer. 

One more for the sake of Martha, smiled at by so 
many because they are incapable either of her blame 
or her sister's praise. 

The repetition of the name, made known 
No other than Christ's full affection. 


And so farewell to the very lovable Robert 

Francis Quarles was born in 1592. I have not much 
to say about him, popular as he was in his own day, 

for a large portion of his writing" takes the shape of 
satire, which I consider only an active form of nega- 
tion. I doubt much if mere opposition to the false is 
of any benefit. Convince a man by argument that the 
thing he has been taught is false, and you leave his 
house empty, swept, and garnished; but the expulsion 
of the falsehood is no protection against its re-entrance 
in another mask, with seven worse than itself in its 
company. The right effort of the teacher is to give 
the positive — to present, as he ma}*, the vision of 
reality, for the perception of which, and not for the 
discovery of falsehood, is man created. This will not 
only cast out the demon, but so people the house that 
he will not dare return. If a man might disprove 
all the untruths in creation, he would hardly be a 
hairs breadth nearer the end of his own making. 
It is better to hold honestly one fragment of truth 
in the midst of immeasurable error, than to sit alone, 
if that were possible, in the midst of an absolute 
vision, clear as the hyaline, but only repellent of 
falsehood, not receptive of truth. It is the positive 
by which a man shall live. Truth is his life. The 
refusal of the false is not the reception of the true. 
A man may deny himself into a spiritual lethargy, 
without denying one truth, simply by spending his 
strength for that which is not bread, until he has 
none left wherewith to search for the truth, which 


alone can feed him. Only when subjected to the 
positive does the negative find its true vocation. 

I am jealous of the living force cast into the slough 
of satire. No doubt, either indignant or loving rebuke 
has its end and does its work, but I fear that wit, 
while rousing the admiration of the spiteful or the like 
witty, comes in only to destroy its dignity. At the 
same time, I am not sure whether there might not be 
such a judicious combination of the elements as to 
render my remarks inapplicable. 

At all events, poetry favours the positive, and from 
the Emblems named of Ouarles I shall choose one in 
which it fully predominates. There is something in 
it remarkably fine. 


Will 't ne'er be morning? Will that promised light 
Ne'er break, and clear those clouds of night? 
Svveet Phosphor, bring the day, 
Whose conquering ray 
May chase these fogs : sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 

How long, how long shall these benighted eyes 

Languish in shades, like feeble Hies 
Expecting spring? I low long shall darknes^ soil 

The lace of earth, and thus beguile 
Our soul> of s], rightful action? When, when will day 

Begin to dawn, whose new-born ray 
May gild the weathercocks of our devotion, 

And give our linsouled souls new motion? 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day : 
The light will fray 

These horrid mists: sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 


Let those whose eyes, like owls, abhor the ! : 
those have night that love the night : 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 
I low sad delay 

Sweet Phosphor, bring the 

! my light-in-vain-expecting eyes 
Can find no objects but what rise 

this poor mortal blaze, a dying spark 

( 'f Vulcan's forge, whose flames are dark, — 

ngerous, dull, blue-burning light, 
As melancholy as the night : 
Here's all the suns that glister in the sphere 
' If earth : Ah me ! what comfort's here ! 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day. 
I i aste, haste away 
Heaven's loitering lamp : sweet Phosphor, bring the 

. Ignorance. O thou, whose idle knee 
Rocks earth into a let: 

1 with thy sooty fingers hast benight 

The world's fair cheeks, blow, blow thy spite ; 
Since thou hast puffed our greater taper, do 

Puff on, and out the lesser too. 
If e'er that breath-exile : d flame return, 
Thou hast not blown as it will burn. 
Sweet Phosphor, bring the day : 
Light will repay 
The wrongs of night : swa I 

With honoured, Herbert 

waiting at the door, I cannot ask Fra 
remain longer : I can part with him 
worthy man and fair poet 



But, with my hand on the lock, I shrink from 
opening the door. Here comes a poet indeed ! and 
how am I to show him due honour ? With his book 
humbly, doubtfully offered, with the ashes of the 
poems of his youth fluttering in the wind of his priestly 
garments, he crosses the threshold. Or rather, for I 
had forgotten the symbol of my book, let us all go 
from our chapel to the choir, and humbly ask him 
to sing that he may make us worthy of his song. 

In George Herbert there is poetry enough and to 
spare : it is the household bread of his being. If I 
begin with that which first in the nature of tilings ought 
to be demanded of a poet, namely, Truth, Revelation — 
George Herbert offers us measure pressed down and 
running over. But let me speak first of that which 
first in time or order of appearance we demand of 
a poet, namely music. For inasmuch as verse is for 
the ear, not for the eye, we demand a good hearing 
first. Let no one undervalue it. The heart of poetry 
is indeed truth, but its garments are music, and the 
garments come first in the process of revelation. The 


music of a poem is its meaning in sound as distin- 
guished from word — its meaning in solution, as it 
were, uncrystallized by articulation. The music goes 
before the fuller revelation, preparing its way. The 
sound of a verse is the harbinger of the truth con- 
tained therein. If it be a right poem, this will be 
true. Herein Herbert excels. It will be found im- 
possible to separate the music of his words from the 
music of the thought which takes shape in their sound. 

I got me flowers to strow thy way, 

I got me boughs off many a tree ; 
But thou wast up by break of day. 

And brought'st thy sweets along with thee. 

And the gift it enwraps at once and reveals is, I 
have said, truth of the deepest. Hear this song of 
divine service. In every song he sings a spiritual 
fact will be found its fundamental life, although I 
may quote this or that merely to illustrate some 
peculiarity of mode. 

The Elixir was an imagined liquid sought by the 
old physical investigators, in order that by its means 
they might turn every common metal into gold, a 
pursuit not quite so absurd as it has since appeared. 
They called this something, when regarded as a solid, 
the Philosopher's Stone. In the poem it is also called 
a tincture. 

Tin-: ELIXIR. 

Teach me, my God and King, 

In all things thee to see ; 
And what I do in anything, 

To do it as for thee ; 


Not rudely, as a beast, 

To run into an action ; 
But still to make thee prepossest, 

And give it his perfection. its. 

A man that looks on glass, 

( )n it may stay his eye ; 
Or, if he pleaseth, through it pass, 

And then the heaven spy. 

All may of thee partake : 

Nothing can be so mean, 
Which with his tincture— -for thy sake — its, 

Will not grow bright and clean. 

A servant with this clause 

Makes drudgery divine : 
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws, 

Makes that and the action fine. 

This is the famous stone 

That turneth all to gold ; 
For that which God doth touch and own 

Cannot for less be told. 

With a conscience tender as a child's, almost 
diseased in its tenderness, and a heart loving as a 
woman's, his intellect is none the less powerful. Its 
movements are as the sword-play of an alert, poised, 
well-knit, strong-wristed fencer with the rapier, in 
which the skill impresses one more than the force, 
while without the force the skill would be value!' 
even hurtful, to its possessor. There is a graceful 
humour with it occasionally, even in his most serious 
poems adding much to their charm. To illustrate- 
all this, take the following, the title of which means 
The Retort. 



The merry World did on a day 

With his train-hinds and mates agree 
To meet together where I lay, 

And all in sport to jeer at me. 

First Beauty erept into a rose ; 

Which when I plucked not — "Sir," said she, 
" Tell me, I pray, whose hands are those?" J 

But thou shall answer^ Lord, for me. 

Then Money came, and, chinking still — 
" What tune is this, poor mm ?" said he : 

" I heard in music you had skill." 
But thou shal t answer, Lord, for me. 

Then came brave Glory puffing by 

In silks that whistled— who but he ? 
lie scarce allowed me half an eye ; 
But thou shalt answer^ Lord, for me. 

Then came quick Wit-and- Conversation, 

And he would needs a comfort be, 
And, to be short, make an oration : 
But thou shalt answer, Lord, for me. 

Yet when the hour of thy design 

To answer these fine things, shall come, 

Speak not at large — say I am thine ; 
And then they have their answer home. 

Here is another instance of his humour. It is the 
first stanza of a poem to Death. lie is glorying over 
Death as personified in a skeleton. 

Death, thou wast once an uncouth, hideous thing- 
Nothing but bones, 
The sad effect of sadder groans : 
Thy mouth was open, but thou couldst not sing. 

1 Equivalent to " What are those hands of yours for ?" 
*S.L. IV. N 


No writer before him has shown such a love to 
God, such a childlike confidence in him. The love is 
like the love of those whose verses came first in my 
volume. But the nation had learned to think more, 
and new difficulties had consequently arisen. These, 
again, had to be undermined by deeper thought, 
and the discovery of yet deeper truth had been the 
reward. Hence, the love itself, if it had not strength- 
ened, had at least grown deeper. And George Her- 
bert had had difficulty enough in himself; for, born 
of high family, by nature fitted to shine in that 
society where elegance of mind, person, carriage, and 
utterance is most appreciated, and having indeed 
enjoyed something of the life of a courtier, he had 
forsaken all in obedience to the voice of his higher 
nature. Hence the struggle between his tastes and 
his duties would come and come again, augmented 
probably by such austere notions as every conscien- 
tious man must entertain in proportion to his ina- 
bility to find God in that in which he might find him. 
From this inability, inseparable in its varying degrees 
from the very nature of growth, springs all the 
asceticism of good men, whose love to God will be 
the greater as their growing insight reveals him in his 
world, and their growing faith approaches to the 
giving of thanks in everything. 

When we have discovered the truth that whatsoever 
is not of faith is sin, the way to meet it is not to for- 
sake the human law, but so to obey it as to thank 
God for it. To leave the world and go into the desert 
is not thus to give thanks : it may have been the only 


way for this or that man, in his blameless blindness, 
to take. The divine mind of George Herbert, how- 
ever, was in the main bent upon discovering God 

The poem I give next, powerfully sets forth the 
struggle between liking and duty of which I have 
spoken. It is at the same time an instance of wonder- 
ful art in construction, all the force of the germinal 
thought kept in reserve, to burst forth at the last. 
He calls it — meaning by the word, God's Restraint — 


I struck the board, and cried " No more ! — 

I will abroad. 
What ! shall I ever sigh and pine ? 
My lines and life are free — free as the road, 
Loose as the wind, as large as store. 

Shall I be still in suit ? 
Have I no harvest but a thorn 
To let me blood, and not restore 
What I have lost with cordial fruit ? 
Sure there was wine 
Before my sighs did dry it! There was corn 
Before my tears did drown it ! 
Is the year only lost to me ? 

Have I no bays to crown it ? 
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted? 
All wasted ? 
Not so, my heart ; but there is fruit. 

And thou hast hands. 
Recover all thy sigh-blown age 
On double pleasures. Leave thy cold dispute 
Of what is fit, and not. Forsake thy cage, 

Thy rope of sands, 
Which petty thoughts have made — and made to thee 
Good cable, to enforce and draw, 

And be thy law, 
While thou didst wink and woilldst not see. 
N 2 


Away ! Take heed — 
I will abroad. 
Call in thy death's-head there. Tie up thy fears. 
He that forbears 
To suit and serve his need, 
Deserves his load." 
But as I raved, and grew more fierce and wild 
At every word, 
Methought I heard one calling " Child !" 
And I replied, "My Lord!" 

Coming now to speak of his art, let me say some- 
thing first about his use of homeliest imagery for 
highest thought. This, I think, is in itself enough 
to class him with the highest kind of poets. If my 
^eader will refer to The Elixir, he will see an instance 
in the third stanza, "You may look at the glass, or 
at the sky : " " You may regard your action only, or 
that action as the will of God." Again, let him listen 
to the pathos and simplicity of this one stanza, from a 
poem he calls The Flower. He has been in trouble ; 
his times have been evil ; he has felt a spiritual 
old age creeping upon him ; but he is once more 

And now in age 1 I bud again ; 
After so many deaths I live and write ; 
I once more smell the dew and rain, 
And relish versing. () my only light, 
It cannot be 
That I am he 
On whom thy tempests fell all night ! 

Again : 

Some may dream merrily, but when they wake 
They dress themselves and come to thee. 

1 He was but thirty-nine when he died. 


He has an exquisite feeling of lyrical art. Not 
only does he keep to one idea in it, but he finishes 
the poem like a cameo. Here is an instance wherein 
he outdoes the elaboration of a Norman trouve-re ; 
for not merely does each line in each stanza end 
with the same sound as the corresponding line in 
every other stanza, but it ends with the very same 
word. I shall hardly care to defend this if my reader 
chooses to call it a whim ; but I do say that a large 
degree of the peculiar musical effect of the poem — 
subservient to the thought, keeping it dimly chiming 
in the head until it breaks out clear and triumphant 
like a silver bell in the last — is owing to this use of 
the same column of words at the line-ends of every 
stanza. Let him who doubts it, read the poem aloud. 


Holiness on the head ; 
Light and perfections on the breast ; 
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead, 
To lead them unto life and rest — 

Thus are true Aarons drest. 

Profaneness in my head ; 
Defects and darkness in my breast ; 
A noise of passions ringing me for dead 
Unto a place where is no rest — 

Poor priest, thus am I drest ! 

Only another head 
I have, another heart and breast, 
Another music, making live, not dead, 
Without whom I could have no rest — 
In him I am well drest. 


Christ is my only head, 
My alone only heart and breast, 
My only music, striking me even dead, 
That to the old man I may rest, 
And be in him new drest. 

So, holy in my head, 
Perfect and light in my dear breast, 
My doctrine turned by Christ, who is not dead, 
But lives in me while I do rest — 
Come, people : Aaron's drest. 

Note the flow and the ebb of the lines of each 
stanza — from six to eight to ten syllables, and back 
through eight to six, the number of stanzas corre- 
sponding to the number of lines in each ; only the 
poem itself begins with the ebb, and ends with a full 
spring-flow of energy. Note also the perfect anti- 
thesis in their parts between the first and second 
stanzas, and how the last line of the poem clenches 
the whole in revealing its idea — that for the sake of 
which it was written. In a word, note the unity. 

Born in 1593, notwithstanding his exquisite art, he 
could not escape being influenced by the faulty ten- 
dencies of his age, borne in upon his youth by the 
example of his mother's friend, Dr. Donne. A man 
must be a giant like Shakspere or Milton to cast off* 
his age's faults. Indeed no man has more of the 
" quips and cranks and wanton wiles " of the poetic 
spirit of his time than George Herbert, but with this 
difference from the rest of Dr. Donne's school, that 
such is the indwelling potency that it causes even 
these to shine with a radiance such that we wish 
them still to burn and not be consumed. His muse is 


seldom other than graceful, even when her motions 
are grotesque, and he is always a gentleman, which 
cannot be said of his master. We could not bear 
to part with his most fantastic oddities, they are so 
interpenetrated with his genius as well as his art. 

In relation to the use he makes of these faulty 
forms, and to show that even herein he has exer- 
cised a refraining judgment, though indeed fancying 
he has quite discarded in only somewhat reforming 
it, I recommend the study of two poems, each of 
which he calls Jordan, though why I have not yet 
with certainty discovered. 

It is possible that not many of his readers have 
observed the following instances of the freakish in his 
rhyming art, which however result well. When I say 
so, I would not be supposed to approve of the freak, 
but only to acknowledge the success of the poet in 
his immediate intent. They are related to a cer- 
tain tendency to mechanical contrivance not seldom 
associated with a love of art : it is art operating 
in the physical understanding. In the poem called 
Home, every stanza is perfectly finished till the last : 
in it, with an access of art or artfulness, he destroys 
the rhyme. I shall not quarrel with my reader if he 
calls it the latter, and regards it as art run to seed. 

And yet — and yet I confess I have a latent 

liking for the trick. I shall give one or two stanzas 
out of the rather long poem, to lead up to the change 
in the last. 

Come, Lord ; my head doth burn, my heart is sick, 
While thou dost ever, ever 


Thy long deferrings wound me to the quiek ; 
My spirit gaspeth night and day. 
O show thyself to me, 
Or take me up to thee. 

Nothing but drought and dearth, but bush and brake, 

Which way soe'er I look I see : 
Some may dream merrily, but when they wake 
They dress themselves and come to thee. 
O show thyself to me, 
Or take me up to thee. 

Come, dearest Lord, pass not this holy season, 

My flesh and bones and joints do pray ; 
And even my verse, when by the rhyme and reason 
The word is slay, 1 says ever come. 
O show thyself to me, 
Or take me up to thee. 

Balancing this, my second instance is of the con- 
verse. In all the stanzas but the last, the last line in 
each hangs unrhymed : in the last the rhyming is 
fulfilled. The poem is called Denial. I give only 
a part of it. 

When my devotions could not pierce 
Thy silent ears, 
Then was my heart broken as was my verse ; 
My breast was full of fears 
And disorder. 

O that thou shouldsl give dust a tongue 
To cry to thee, 
And then not hear it crying! All day long 
My heart was in my knee : 
But no hearing ! 

1 To rhyme with pray in the second line. 


Therefore my soul lay out of sight, 
Untuned, unstrung ; 
My feeble spirit, unable to look right, 
Like a nipt blossom, hung 

O cheer and tune my heartless breast — 
Defer no time ; 
That so thy favours granting my request, 
They and my mind may chime, 
And mend my rhyme. 

It had been hardly worth the space to point out 

these, were not the matter itself precious. 

Before making further remark on George Herbert, 

let me present one of his poems in which the oddity 

of the visual fancy is only equalled by the beauty 

of the result. 


When God at first made man, 
Having a glass of blessing standing by, 
" Let us," said he, " pour on him all we can : 
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie, 

Contract into a span." 

So strength first made a way ; 
Then beauty flowed ; then wisdom, honour, pleasure. 
When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, 

Rest in the bottom lay. 

" For if I should," said he, 
" Pestow this jewel also on my creature, 
He would adore my gifts instead of me, 
And rest in nature, not the God o( nature : 

So both should losers be. 

" Vet let him keep the rest — 
But keep them with repining restlessness : 

Let him be rich and weary, that, at least, 
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
May toss him to my breast." 


Is it not the story of the world written with the 
point of a diamond ? 

There can hardly be a doubt that his tendency to 
unnatural forms was encouraged by the increase of 
respect to symbol and ceremony shown at this period 
by some of the external powers of the church — Bishop 
Laud in particular. Had all, however, who delight 
in symbols, a power, like George Herbert's, of. setting 
even w T ithin the horn-lanterns of the more arbitrary 
of them, such a light of poetry and devotion that 
their dull sides vanish in its piercing shine, and we 
forget the symbol utterly in the truth which it can- 
not obscure, then indeed our part would be to take 
and be thankful. But there never has been even a 
living true symbol which the dulness of those who 
will see the truth only in the symbol has not de- 
graded into the very cockatrice-egg of sectarianism. 
The symbol is by such always more or less idolized, 
and the light within more or less patronized. If the 
truth, for the sake of which all symbols exist, were 
indeed the delight of those who claim it, the secta- 
rianism of the church would vanish. But men on all 
sides call that the truth which is but its form or 
outward sign — material or verbal, true or arbitral')', 
it matters not which — and hence come strifes and 

Although George Herbert, however, could thus 
illumine all with his divine inspiration, we cannot 
help wondering whether, if he had betaken himself 
yet more to vital and less to half artificial symbols, 
the change would not have been a breaking of the 


pitcher and an outshining of the lamp. For a symbol 
may remind us of the truth, and at the same time 
obscure it — present it, and dull its effect. It is the 
temple of nature and not the temple of the church, 
the things made by the hands of God and not the 
things made by the hands of man, that afford the 
truest symbols of truth. 

I am anxious to be understood. The chief symbol 
of our faith, the Cross, it may be said, is not one of 
these natural symbols. I answer — No ; but neither 
is it an arbitrary symbol. It is not a symbol of a 
truth at all, but of a fact, of the infinitely grandest 
fact in the universe, which is itself the outcome 
and symbol of the grandest Truth. The Cross is an 
historical sign, not properly a symbol, except through 
the facts it reminds us of. On the other hand, baptism 
and the euckarist are symbols of the loftiest and pro- 
foundest kind, true to nature and all its meanings, as 
well as to the facts of which they remind us. They 
are in themselves symbols of the truths involved in 
the facts they commemorate. 

Of Nature's symbols George Herbert has made 
large use ; but he would have been yet a greater 
poet if he had made a larger use of them still. 
Then at least we might have got rid of such oddities 
as the stanzas for steps up to the church-door, the 
first at the bottom of the page; of the lines shaped 
into ugly altar-form ; and of the absurd Easter wings, 
made of ever lengthening lines. This would not 
have been much, I confess, nor the gain by their loss 
great ; but not to mention the larger supply of images 


graceful with the grace of God, who when he had 
made them said they were good, it would have led 
to the further purification of his taste, perhaps even 
to the casting out of all that could untimely move 
our mirth ; until possibly (for illustration), instead of 
this lovely stanza, he would have given us even a 
lovelier : 

Listen, sweet dove, unto my song, 

And spread thy golden wings on me; 
Hatching my tender heart so long, 

Till it get wing, and fly away with thee. 

The stanza is indeed lovely, and true and tender 
and clever as well ; yet who can help smiling at the 
notion of the incubation of the heart-egg, although 
what the poet means is so good that the smile 
almost vanishes in a sigh ? 

There is no doubt that the works of man's hands will 
also afford many true symbols ; but I do think that, in 
proportion as a man gives himself to those instead of 
studying Truth's wardrobe of forms in nature, so will 
he decline from the high calling of the poet. George 
Herbert was too great to be himself much injured by 
the narrowness of the field whence he gathered his 
symbols ; but his song will be the worse for it in the 
ears of all but those who, having lost sight of or 
having never beheld the oneness of the God whose 
creation exists in virtue of his redemption, feel safer 
in a low-browed crypt than under "the high em- 
bowed roof." 

When the desire after system or order degenerates 
from a need into a passion, or ruling idea, it closes, as 


may be seen in many women who are especial house- 
keepers, like an unyielding skin over the mind, to the 
death of all development from impulse and aspiration. 
The same thing holds in the church : anxiety about 
order and system will kill the life. This did not go 
near to being the result with George Herbert : his 
life was hid with Christ in God ; but the influence of 
his profession, as distinguished from his work, was 
hurtful to his calling as a poet. He of all men would 
scorn to claim social rank for spiritual service ; he of 
all men would not commit the blunder of supposing 
that prayer and praise are that service of God : they 
arc prayer and praise, not service ; he knew that God 
can be served only through loving ministration to 
his sons and daughters, all needy of^ commonest 
human help : but, as the most devout of clergymen 
will be the readiest to confess, there is even a danger 
to their souls in the unvarying recurrence of the out- 
ward obligations of their service ; and, in like manner, 
the poet will fare ill if the conventions from which 
the holiest system is not free send him soaring with 
sealed eyes. George Herbert's were but a little 
blinded thus; yet something, we must allow, his 
poetry was injured by his profession. All that I say 
on this point, however, so far from diminishing his 
praise, adds thereto, setting forth only that he was 
such a poet as might have been greater yet, had the 
divine gift had free course. But again I rebuke 
myself and say, "Thank God for George Herbert." 

To rid our spiritual palates of the clinging flavour 
of criticism, let me choose another song from his 


precious legacy — one less read, I presume, than man}'. 
It shows his tendency to asceticism — the fancy of 
forsaking God's world in order to serve him ; it has 
besides many of the faults of the age, even to that 
of punning ; yet it is a lovely bit of art as well as a 
rich embodiment of tenderness. 


Oh King of grief ! a title strange yet true, 

To thee of all kings only due ! 
Oh King of wounds ! how shall I grieve for thee, 

Who in all grief preventest me ? goest before me. 

Shall I weep blood ? Why, thou hast wept such store, 

That all thy body was one gore. 
Shall I be scourged, flouted, boxed, sold? 

'Tis but to tell the tale is told. 
My God, my God, why dost tJiou part from me ? 

Was such a grief as cannot be. 
Shall I then sing, skipping thy doleful story, 

And side with thy triumphant glory ? 
Shall thy strokes be my stroking ? thorns my flower ? 

Thy rod, my posy? 1 cross, my bower? 
But how then shall I imitate thee, and 

Copy thy fair, though bloody hand ? 
Surely I will revenge me on thy love, 

And try who shall victorious prove. 
If thou dost give me wealth, 1 will restore 

All back unto thee by the poor. 
If thou dost give me honour, men shall see 

The honour doth belong to thee. 
I will not many ; or if she be mine, 

She and her children shall be thine. 
My bosom-friend, if he blaspheme thy name, 

I will tear thence his love and fame. 
One half of me being gone, the rest I give 

Unto some chapel die or live. 

Bunch of flowers. He was thinking of Aaron's rod, perhaps. 


As for my Passion 1 — But of that anon, 

When with the other I have done. 
For thy Predestination, I'll contrive 

That, three years hence, if I survive, - 
I'll build a spital, or mend common ways, 

But mend my own without delays. 
Then I will use the works of thy creation, 

As if I used them but for fashion. 
The world and I will quarrel ; and the year 

Shall not perceive that I am here. 
My music shall find thee, and every string 

Shall have his attribute to sing, its. 

That all together may accord in thee, 

And prove one God, one harmony. 
If thou shalt give me wit, it shall appear ; 

If thou hast given it me, 'tis here. 
Nay, I will read thy book, 3 and never move 

Till I have found therein thy love — 
Thy art of love, which I'll turn back on thee : 

O-my dear Saviour, Victory ! 
Then for my Passion — I will do for that — 

Alas, my God ! I know not what. 

With the preceding must be taken the following, 
which comes immediately after it. 


I have considered it, and find 
There is no dealing with thy mighty' Pas-ion ; 
For though I die for thee, I am behind : 

My sins deserve the condemnation. 

1 To correspond to that of Christ. 

2 Again a touch of holy humour: to match his Master's predestina- 
tion, he will contrive something three years beforehand, with an if. 

3 The here in the preceding line means his book ; hence the thy book 
s antithetical. 


O make me innocent, that I 
May give a disentangled state and free ; 
And yet thy wounds still my attempts defy, 

For by thy death I die for thee. 

Ah ! was it not enough that thou 
By thy eternal glory didst outgo me ? 
Couldst thou not grief's sad conquest me allow, 

But in all victories overthrow me ? 

Yet by confession will I come 
Into the conquest : though I can do nought 
Against thee, in thee I will overcome 

The man who once against thee fought. 

Even embracing the feet of Jesus, Mary Magdalene 
or George Herbert must rise and go forth to do his 

It will be observed how much George Herbert goes 
beyond all that have preceded him, in the expression 
of feeling as it flows from individual conditions, in 
the analysis of his own moods, in the logic of wor- 
ship, if I may say so. His utterance is not merely of 
personal love and grief, but of the peculiar love and 
grief in the heart of George Herbert. There may 
be disease in such a mind ; but, if there be, it is a 
disease that will burn itself out. Such disease is, for 
men constituted like him, the only path to health. By 
health I mean that simple regard to the truth, to the 
will of God, which will turn away a man's eyes from 
his own conditions, and leave God free to work his 
perfection in him — free, that is, of the interference of 
the man's self-consciousness and anxiety. To this 
perfection St. Paul had come when he no longer cried 
out against the body of his death, no more judged 


his own self, but left all to the Father, caring only 
to do his will. It was enough to him then that God 
should judge him, for his will is the one good thing 
securing all good things. Amongst the keener de- 
lights of the life which is at the door, I look for the 
face of George Herbert, with whom to talk humbly 
would be in bliss a higher bliss. 

s.i . IV. 



John Milton, born in 1608, was twenty-four years 
of age when George Herbert died. Hardly might two 
good men present a greater contrast than these. In 
power and size, Milton greatly excels. If George 
Herbert's utterance is like the sword-play of one skil- 
ful with the rapier, that of Milton is like the sword-play 
of an old knight, flashing his huge but keen-cutting 
blade in lightnings about his head. Compared with 
Herbert, Milton was a man in health. He never 
shows, at least, any diseased regard of himself. His 
eye is fixed on the truth, and he knows of no ill- 
faring. While a man looks thitherward, all the move- 
ments of his spirit reveal themselves only in peace. 

Everything conspired, or, should I not rather say? 
everything was freely given, to make Milton a great 
poet. Leaving the original seed of melody, the 
primordial song in the soul which all his life was an 
effort to utter, let us regard for a moment the cir- 
cumstances that favoured its development. 

From childhood he had listened to the sounds of 
the organ ; doubtless himself often gave breath to the 


soundboard with his hands on the lever of the bellows, 
while his father's 

volant touch, 
Instinct through all proportions low and high, 
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue ; 

and the father's organ-harmony we yet hear in the 
son's verse as in none but his. Those organ-sounds 
he has taken for the very breath of his speech, and 
articulated them. He had education and leisure, free- 
dom to think, to travel, to observe : he was more than 
thirty before he had to earn a mouthful of bread by 
his own labour. Rushing at length into freedom's 
battle, he stood in its storm with his hand on the 
wheel of the nation's rudder, shouting many a bold 
word for God and the Truth, until, fulfilled of expe- 
rience as of knowledge, God set up before him a canvas 
of utter darkness : he had to fill it with creatures of 
radiance. God blinded him with his hand, that, like 
the nightingale, he might " sing darkling." Beyond 
all, his life was pure from his childhood, without which 
such poetry as his could never have come to the birth. 
It is the pure in heart who shall see God at length ; the 
pure in heart who now hear his harmonies. More 
than all yet, he devoted himself from the first to the 
will of God, and his prayer that he might write a 
great poem was heard. 

The unity of his being is the strength of Milton. 
He is harmony, sweet and bold, throughout. Not 
Philip Sidney, not George Herbert loved words and 
their melodies more than he ; while in their use he 

O 2 


is more serious than either, and harder to please, 
uttering a music they have rarely approached. Yet 
even when speaking with " most miraculous organ," 
with a grandeur never heard till then, he overflows 
in speech more like that of other men than theirs — he 
utters himself more simply, straightforwardly, digni- 
riedly, than they. His modes are larger and more 
human, more near to the forms of primary thought. 
Faithful and obedient to his art, he spends his power 
in no diversions. Like Shakspere, he can be silent, 
never hesitating to sweep away the finest lines should 
they mar the intent, progress, and flow of his poem. 
Kvcn while he sings most abandonedly, it is ever 
with a care of his speech, it is ever with ordered 
words : not one shall dull the clarity of his verse by 
unlicensed, that is, needless presence. But let not my 
reader fancy that this implies laborious utterance 
and strained endeavour. It is weakness only which 
by the agony of visible effort enhances the magnitude 
of victory. The trained athlete will move with the 
grace of a child, for he has not to seek how to effect 
that which he means to perform. Milton has only to 
take good heed, and with no greater effort than it 
costs the ordinary man to avoid talking like a fool, 
he sings like an archangel. 

But I must not enlarge my remarks, for of his 
verse even I can find room for only a few lyrics. In 
them, however, we shall still find the simplest truth, 
the absolute of life, the poet's aim. He is ever 
soaring towards the region beyond perturbation, the 
true condition of soul ; that is, wherein a man shall 


sec things even as God would have him sec them. 

He has no time to droop his pinions, and sit moody 
even on the highest pine: the sun is above him; he 
must fly upwards. 

The youth who at threc-and-twenty could write the 
following sonnet, might well at five-and-forty be 
capable of writing the one that follows: 

I low soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth, 

Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year ! 

My hasting days fly on with full career, 

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th. 

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth 

That I to manhood am arrived so near ; 

And inward ripeness doth much less appear, 

That some more timely happy spirits endu'th. 

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow, 

It shall be still in strictest measure even 

To that same lot, however mean or high, 

Toward which time leads me and the will of heaven : 

All is- if I have grace to use it so 

As ever in my great Task-master's eye. 

The It which is the subject of the last six lines is 
his Ripeness: it will keep pace with his approaching 
lot ; when it arrives he will be ready for it, whatever 
it may be. The will of heaven is his happy fate. 
Even at three-and-twenty, " he that believeth shall 
not make haste." Calm and open-eyed, he works to 
be ripe, and waits for the work that shall follow. 

At forty-five, then, he writes thus concerning his 
blindness : 

When I consider how my life is spent 

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, 

And that one talent, which is death to 1 


Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent 

To serve therewith my Maker, and present 

My true account, lest he, returning, chide — 

" I >oth God exact day-labour, light denied ? " 

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent foolishly. 

That murmur, soon replies : "God doth not need 

Either man's work or his own gifts : who best 

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best : his state 

Is kingly : thousands at his bidding speed, 

And post o'er land and ocean without rest : 

They also serve who only stand and wait." 

That is, " stand and wait, ready to go when they 
are called." Everybody knows the sonnet, but how 
could I omit it ? Both sonnets will grow more and 
more luminous as they are regarded. 

The following I incline to think the finest of his 
short poems, certainly the grandest of them. It is a 
little ode, written to be set on a clock-case. 


Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race. 

Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours, 

Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace, 

And glut thyself with what thy womb devours — 

Which is no more than what is false and vain, 

And merely mortal dross : 

So little is our loss ! 

So little is thy gain ! 

For whenas each thing bad thou hast entombed, 

And last of nil thy greedy self consumed, 

Then long eternity shall greet our bliss 

With an individual kiss ; tJiat cannot be divided — 

And joy shall overtake us as a flood ; [denial. 

When everything that is sincerely good, 

And perfectly divine 

With truth and peace and love, shall ever shine 


About the supreme throne 

Of him to whose happy-making sight alone 

"When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb, 
Then, all this earthy grpssness quit, 

Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit 

Triumphing over Death and Chance and thee, O Time. 

The next I give is likewise an ode — a more beauti- 
ful one. Observe in both the fine effect of the short 
lines, essential to the nature of the ode, being that 
which gives its solemnity the character yet of a song, 
or rather, perhaps, of a chant. 

In this he calls upon Voice and Verse to rouse and 
raise our imagination until we hear the choral song of 
heaven, and hearing become able to sing in tuneful 


Blest pair of sirens, pledges of heaven's joy 
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse, 
Wed your divine sounds, and mixed power employ 
Dead things with inbreathed sense able to pierce — 
And to our high-raised phantasy present 
That undisturbed song of pure concent 1 
Aye sung before the sapphire-coloured throne 
To him that sits thereon, 
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee ; 
Where the bright seraphim, in burning row, 
Their loud uplifted angel-trumpets blow ; 
And the cherubic host in thousand choirs, 
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires, 
With those just spirits that wear victorious palms, 
Hymns devout and holy psalms 
Singing everlastingly ; 

1 Concent is a singing together, or harmonious 


That we uii earth, with undiscording voice, 

May rightly answer that melodious noise — 

As once we did, till disproportioned 1 Sin 

jarred against Nature's chime, and witli harsh din 

Broke the fair music that all creatures made 

To their great Lord, whose love their motion swayed 

In perfect diapason,- whilst they stood 

In first obedience and their state of good. 

( ) may we soon again renew that song, 

And keep in tune with heaven, till God ere long 

To his celestial consort 3 us unite, 

To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light ! 

Music was the symbol of all Truth to Milton. He 
would count it falsehood to write an unmusical verse. 
I allow that some of his blank lines may appear un- 
rhythmical ; but Experience, especially if she bring 
with her a knowledge of Dante, will elucidate all 
their movements. I exhort my younger friends to 
read Milton aloud when they are alone, and thus 
learn the worth of word-sounds. They will find him 
even in this an educating force. The last ode ought 
to be thus read for the magnificent dance-march of 
its motion, as well as for its melody. 

Show me one who delights in the Hymn on the 
Nativity^ and I will show you one who may never 
indeed be a singer in this world, but who is already a 
listener to the best. But how different it is from 
anything of George I Ierbert's ! It sets forth no feeling 
peculiar to Milton ; it is an outburst of the gladness of 
the company of believers. Every one has at least read 

1 Music depends all on proportions. 

~ The diapason is the octave. Therefore "all notes true." 
See note 2, p. 205. 


the glorious poem ; but were I to leave it out I should 
have lost, not the sapphire of aspiration, not the 
topaz of praise, not the emerald of holiness, but the 
carbuncle of delight from the high priest's breast- 
plate. And I must give the introduction too : it is 
the cloudy grove of an overture, whence rushes the 
torrent of song. 


This is the month, and this the happy morn, 

Wherein the son of heaven's eternal king, 
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born, 

Our great redemption from above did bring ; 

For so the holy sages once did sing, 
That he our deadly forfeit should release, 
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace. 

That glorious form, that light insufferable, 

And that far-beaming blaze of majesty, 
Wherewith he wont 1 at heaven's high council -ta 

To sit the midst of trinal unity, 

He laid aside, and here with us to be, 
Forsook the courts of everlasting day. 
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay. 

Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein 
Afford a present to the infant (iod? 

Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain 
To welcome him to this his new abode, 
Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod, 

Hath took no print of the approaching light, 
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright? 

how, from far upon the eastern road. 
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet ! 
( ) run, prevent them with thy humble ode, 

1 An intransitive verb : 


And lay it lowly at his blessed feet ; 
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet ; 
And join thy voice unto the angel choir, 
From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire. 


It was the winter wild 
While the heaven-born child 
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ; 
Nature, in awe to him. 
Had doffed her gaudy trim, 
With her great master so to sympathize : 
It was no season then for her 
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour. 

Only with speeches fair 
She woos the gentle air 
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow ; 
And on her naked shame, 
Pollute with sinful blame, 
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw; 
Confounded that her maker's eyes 
Should look so near upon her foul deformities. 

But lie, her fears to cease. 
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace. 
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding 
Down through the turning sphere, 
His ready harbinger, 
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 
And waving wide her myrtle wand, 
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land. 

No war, or battle's sound, 

Was heard the world around ; 
The idle spear and shield were high uphung ; 

The hooked chariot stood 

Unstained w ith hostile blood ; 
'Hie trumpet Spake not to the armed throng; 

And kings sat still with awful eve, aw - 

As if they Surely knew their sovereign Lord was by. 


But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of Light 
His reign of peace npon the earth began ; 
The winds, with wonder whist, 
Smoothly the water kissed, 
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, 
"Who now hath quite forgot to rave, 
While birds of calm 1 sit brooding on the charmed wave. 

The stars with deep amaze 
Stand fixed in stedfast gaze, 
Bending one way their precious influence ; 
And will not take their flight 
For all- the morning light, 
Or Lucifer,- that often warned them thence ; 
But in their glimmering orbs did glow 
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go. 

And though the shady gloom 
Had given day her room, 
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed, 
And hid his head for shame, 
As his inferior flame 
The new enlightened world no more should need : 
He saw a greater sun appear 
Than his bright throne or burning axle-tree could bear. 

The shepherds on the lawn, 
Or e'er the point of dawn, 
Sat simply chatting* in a rustic row : 

Full little thought they than then. 

That the mighty Pan 8 
Was kindly come to live with them below ; 
Perhaps their love-, or else their sheep, 
Was all that did their silly thoughts so bu.^y k 

1 The birds called halcyons were said to build their nests on the 
water, and, while they were brooding, to keep it calm. 

- The morning star. 

3 The God of shepherds especially, but the God of all nature — the 
All in all, for Pan means the All. 


When such music sweet 
Their hearts and ears did greet 
As never was by mortal finger strook — 
Divinely warbled voice 
Answering the stringed noise, 
As all their souls in blissful rapture took : 
The air, such pleasure loath to lose, 
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close. 

Nature, that heard such sound, 
Beneath the hollow round 
Of Cynthia's seat 1 the airy region thrilling, 
Now was almost won 
To think her part was done, 
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling : 
She knew such harmony alone 
( Ould hold all heaven and earth in happier union. 

At last surrounds their sight 
A globe of circular light, 
That with long beams the shame-faced night arrayed ; 
The helmed cherubim 
And sworded seraphim 
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed. 
Harping in loud and solemn choir, 
With unexpressive 2 notes to heaven's new-born heir. 
Such music, as 'tis said, 
Before was never made, 
But when of old the sons of morning sung, 
While the Creator great 
His constellations set, 
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung, 3 
And cast the dark foundations deep, 
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep. 

i Milton here uses the old Ptolemaic theory of a succession of solid 
crystal concentric spheres, in which the heavenly bodies were fixed, 
and which revolving carried these with them. Thelowest or innermost 
of these spheres was that of the moon. " The hollow round of Cynthia's 
seat" is, therefore, this sphere in which the moon sits. 

8 That cannot be expressed or described. 

> By hinges he means the axis of the earth, on which it turns as on a 
hinge. The origin of hinge is hang. It is what anything hangs on. 


Ring out, ye crystal spheres ; 
Once bless our human ears — 
If ye have power to touch our senses so ; l 
And let your silver chime 

Move in melodious time ; 

And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow ; 
And, with your ninefold harmony, 
Make up full consort 2 to the angelic symphony." 

For if such holy song 
Enwrap our fancy long, 
Time will run back and fetch the age of gold ; 
And speckled vanity 
Will sicken soon and die ; 4 
And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould ; 
And hell itself will pass away, 
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day. 

Yea, truth and justice then 
Will down return to men, 
Orbed in a rainbow ; and, like glories wearing, 
Mercy will sit between, 
Throned in celestial sheen, 

1 This is an apostrophe to the nine spheres (see former note\ which 
were believed by the ancients to send forth in their revolutions a grand 
harmony, too loud for mortals to hear. But no music of the lower 
region can make up full harmony without the bass of heaven's organ. 
The music of the spheres was to Milton the embodiment of the theory of 
the universe, lie uses the symbol often. 

2 Consort is the right word scientifically. It means the fitting to- 
gether of sounds according to their nature. Concert^ however, is no! 
wrong. It is even more poetic than consort^ for it means a striving 
together, which is the idea of all peace : the strife is together, and no: 
of one against the other. All harmony is an ordered, a divine strife. 
In the contest of music, every tone restrains its foot and bows its head 
to the rest in holy dance. 

3 Symphony is here used for eJiorus, and quite correctly; {ox symphony 
is a voicing together. To this symphony of the angels the spheres and 
the heavenly organ are the accompaniment. 

4 Die of the music. 


With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering ; 
And heaven, as at some festival, 
Will open wide the gates of her high palace-hall. 

But wisest Fate says " No ; 
This must not yet be so." 
The babe lies yet in smiling infancy, 
That on the bitter cross 
Must redeem our loss, 
So both himself and us to glorify. 
Yet first, to those y-chained in sleep, 
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep, 

With such a horrid clang 
As on Mount Sinai rang, 
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake : 
The aged earth, aghast 
With terror of that blast, 
Shall from the surface to the centre shake, 
When, at the world's last session, 
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne. 

And then at last our bliss 
Full and perfect is : 
But now begins ; for from this happy day, 
The old dragon, under ground 
In straiter limits bound, 
Not half so far casts his usurped sway ; 
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail, 
Swinges 1 the scaly horror of his folded tail. 8 

The oracles are dumb : 3 
No voice or hideous hum 
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving; 

1 Not merely swings^ but lashes about. 

- In 1 1 of folds or coils. 

■ The legend concerning this cessation of the oracles associates it 
with the Crucifixion. Milton in The Nativity represents it as the con- 
sequence of the very presence of the infant Saviour. War and lying 
are banished together. 


Apollo from his shrine 
Can no more divine, 
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving; 
No nightly trance, or breathed spell, 
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell. 

The lonely mountains o'er, 
And the resounding shore, 
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament ; 
From haunted spring and dale, 
Edged with poplar pale, 
The parting genius l is with sighing sent ; 
With flower-inwoven tresses torn, 
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn. 

In consecrated earth, 
And on the holy hearth, 
The Lars and Lemures- moan with midnight plaint ; 
In urns and altars round, 
A drear and dying sound 
Affrights the flamens 3 at their service quaint ; 
And the chill marble seems to sweat, 
While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat. 

Peor and Baalim 
Forsake their temples dim, 
With that twicc^battered god of Palestine ; 

And mooned Ashtaroth, the Assyrian / 

Fleaven's queen and mother both, 
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine ; 
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn ; * 
Tn vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz 5 mourn. 

1 The genius is the local god, the god of the place as a place. 

2 The Lars were the protecting spirits of the ancestors of the family ; 
the Lemures were evil spirits, spectres, or bad ghosts. Put the notions 
were somewhat indefinite. 

3 Flamen was the word used for priest when the Romans spoke of 
the priest of any particular divinity. Hence the peculiar power in the 
Last line of the stanza. 

4 Jupiter Amnion, worshipped in Libya, in the north of Africa, under 
the form of a goat. " lie draws in his horn." 

5 The Syrian Adonis. 


And sullen .Moloch, fled, 
Hath left in shadows dread 
His burning idol, all of blackest hue : 
In vain with cymbals' ring 
They call the grisly 1 king, 
In dismal dance about the furnace blue. 
The brutish gods of Nile as fast — 
Iris and Orus and the dog Anubis — haste. 

Nor is Osiris 2 seen 
In Memphian grove or green, 
Trampling the unshowered 3 grass with lowings loud ; 
Nor can he be at rest 
Within his sacred chest; 
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud; 
In vain, with timbrelled anthems dark, 
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark : 

He feels, from Judah's land, 
The dreaded infant's hand ; 
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn. 
Nor all the gods beside 
Longer dare abide — 
Not Typhon huge, ending in snaky twine : 
Our babe, to show his Godhead true, 
Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew. 

So, when the sun in bed, 
Curtained with cloudy red, 
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave, 
The flocking shadows pale 
Troop to the infernal jail — 
Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave; 
And the yellow-skirted fays 
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze. 

i Frightful, horrible, as, a grisly bear. 

- Isis, Orus, Anubis, and Osiris, all Egyptian divinities — the Is 
worshipped in the form of a bull. 
1 No rain falls in Egypt 


But see, the Virgin blest 
1 lath laid her babe to rest : 
Time is our tedious song should here have ending ; 
Heaven's youngest-teemed star 1 
I lath fixed her polished car, 
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending : 
And all about the courtly stable 
Bright-harnessed 2 angels sit, in order serviceable. 3 

If my reader should think some of the rhymes 
bad, and some of the wordso ddly used, I would 
remind him that both pronunciations and mean- 
ings have altered since : the probability is, that the 
older forms in both arc the better. Milton will not 
use a wrong word or a bad rhyme. With regard to 
the form of the poem, let him observe the variety 
of length of line in the stanza, and how skilfully the 
varied lines are associated — two of six syllables and 
one of ten ; then the same repeated ; then one of 
eight and one of twelve — no two, except of the 
shortest, coming together of the same length. Its 
stanza is its own : I do not know another poem 
written in the same; and its music is exquisite. The 
probability is that, if the reader note any fact in 
the poem, however trifling it might seem to the 

less eye, it will repay him by unfolding 1 
individual and related beauty. Then let him ponder 
pictures given: the sudden arraying of the shame- 
faced night in long beams ; the amazed kings silent 
on their thrones ; the birds brooding on the sea : he 
will find main* such. Let him consider the clear-cut 

1 Last-born : the star in the east. - Bright-armoured. 

3 Ready for what service may ari . 
s.L. rv. j> 


epithets, so full of meaning. A true poet may be at 
once known by the justice and force of the adjectives 
he uses, especially when he compounds them, — that 
is, makes one out of two. Here are some examples : 
meek-eyed Peace ; pale-eyed priest ; speckled vanity; 
smouldering clouds ; hideous hum ; dismal dance ; 
dusky eyne : there are many such, each almost a 
poem in itself. The whole is a succession of pictures 
set in the loveliest music for the utterance of grandest 

No doubt there are in the poem instances of such 
faults in style as were common in the age in which his 
verse was rooted : for my own part, I never liked the 
first two stanzas of the hymn. But such instances 
are few ; while for a right feeling of the marvel of 
this poem and of the two preceding it, we must 
remember that Milton was only twenty-one when he 
wrote them. 

Apparently to make one of a set with the Nativity^ 
he began to write an ode on the Passion, but, finding 
the subject " above the years he had when he wrote 
it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left 
it unfinished." The fragment is full of unworthy, 
though skilful, and, for such, powerful conceits, but 
is especially interesting as showing how even Milton, 
trying to write about what he felt, but without yet 
having generated thoughts enow concerning the sub- 
ject itself, could only fall back on conventionalities. 
Happy the young poet the wisdom of whose earliest 
years was such that he recognized his mistake almost 
at the outset, and dropped the attempt! Amongst 


the stanzas there is, however, one of exceeding love- 
liness : 

He, sovereign priest, stooping his regal head, 

That dropped with odorous oil down his fair eyes, 

Poor fleshly tabernacle entered, 

J lis starry front low- roofed beneath the skies. 

( )h what a masque was there ! what a disguise ! 

Vet more ! the stroke of death he must abide ; 

Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side. 

In this it will be seen that he has left the jubilant 
measure of the Hymn, and returned to the more 
stately and solemn rhyme-royal of its overture, as 
more suited to his subject. Milton could not be 
wrong in his music, even when he found the quarry 
of his thought too hard to work. 

P 2 



EDMUND Waller, born in 1605, was three years 
older than Milton ; but I had a fancy for not 
dividing Herbert and Milton. As a poet he had a 
high reputation for many years, gained chiefly, I 
think, by a regard to literary proprieties, combined 
with wit. He is graceful sometimes ; but what in 
his writings would with many pass for grace, is only 
smoothness and the absence of faults. His horses 
were not difficult to drive. He dares little and suc- 
ceeds in proportion — occasionally, however, flashing 
out into true song. In politics he had no character 
— let us hope from weakness rather than from sel- 
fishness ; yet, towards the close of his life, he 
>te some poems which reveal a man not unaccus- 
tomed to ponder sacred tilings, and able to express 
thoughts concerning them with force and justice. 
From a poem called Of Divine Love, I gather the 
following very remarkable passages : I wish they had 
been enforced by greater nobility of character. Still 
they are in themselv \s true. Even where we have 
no proof of repentance, we may see plentiful signs of 


a growth towards it. We cannot tell how long the 
truth may of necessity require to interpenetrate the 
ramifications of a man's nature. By slow degrees 
he discovers that here it is not, and there it is not. 
.in and again, and yet again, a man finds that he 
must be born with a new birth. 

The fear of hell, or aiming to be blest, 
Savours too much of private interest : 
This moved not Moses, nor the zealous Paul, 
\Vho for their friends abandoned soul and all ; 
A greater yet from heaven to hell descends, 
To save and make his enemies his friends. 

That early love of creatures yet unmade, 
To frame the world the Almighty did persuade. 
For love it was that first created light, 
Moved on the waters, chased away the night 
From the rude chaos ; and bestowed new grace 
On things deposed of to their proper place — 
Some to rest here, and some to shine above : 
Earth, sea, and heaven, were all the effects of love. 
* * * * « 

Not willing terror should his image move, 
lie gives a pattern of eternal love : 
His son descends, to treat a peace with those 
Which were, and must have ever been, his foes. 
Poor he became, and left his glorious seat, 
To make us humble, and to make us great; 
Iks business here was happiness to give 
To those whose malice could not let him live. 

lie to proud potentates would not be known : 
( )f those that loved him, he was hid from none. 
Till love appear, we live in anxious doubt ; 
But smoke will vanish when that flame breaks out : 
This is the lire that would consume our 
Refine, and make us richer by the loss. 


Who for himself no miracle would make, 
Dispensed with 1 several for the people's sake, 
lie that, long- flisting, would no wonder show, 
Made loaves and fishes, as they eat them, grow. 
Of all his power, which boundless was above, 
Here he used none but to express his love ; 
And such a love would make our joy exceed, 
Not when our own, but others' mouths we feed. 

* * * * * 

Love as he loved ! A love so unconfined 
With arms extended would embrace mankind. 
Self-love would cease, or be dilated, when 
We should behold as many selfs as men ; 
All of one family, in blood allied, 
His precious blood that for our ransom died. 

* * * * *- 

Amazed at once and comforted, to find 
A boundless power so infinitely kind, 
The soul contending to that light to fly 
From her dark cell, we practise how to die, 
Employing thus the poet's winged art 
To reach this love, and grave it in our heart. 
Joy so complete, so solid, and severe, 
Would leave no place for meaner pleasures there : 
Pale they would look, as stars that must be gone 
When from the east the rising sun comes on. 

To that and some other poems he adds the follow- 
ing — a kind of epilogue. 


When we fur age could neither read nor write. 
The subject made us able to indite : 
The soul with nobler resolutions decked, 
The body stooping, does herself erect : 
No mortal parts are requisite to raise 
Her that unbodied can her Maker praise. 

1 The with we should now omit, lor when we use it we mean the 
opposite of what is meant here. 

S/ft THOMA S BRO 11 W. 2 1 5 

The seas arc quiet when the winds give o'er : 
So calm are we when passions are no more ; 
For then we know how vain it was to boast 
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost. 
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes -bassion. 

Conceal that emptiness which age descries. 

The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed, 
Lets in new light, through chinks that time has made : 
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become, 
As they draw near to their eternal home. 
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view 
That stand upon the threshold of the new. 

It would be a poor victory where age was the sole 
conqueror. But I doubt if age ever gains the victory 
alone. Let Waller, however, have this praise : his 
song soars with his subject. It is a true praise. 
There are men who write well until they try the 
noble, and then they fare like the falling star, which, 
when sought where it fell, is, according to an old 
fancy, discovered a poor jelly. 

Sir Thomas Brown, a physician, whose prose writings 
are as peculiar as they are valuable, was of the same 
age as Waller, lie partakes to a considerable degree 
of the mysticism which was so much followed in his 
day, only in his case it influences his literature most 
— his mode of utterance more than his mode of 
thought. His True Christian Morals is a very valu- 
able book, notwithstanding the obscurity that some- 
times arises in that, as in all his writings, from his 
fondness for Latin words. The following fine hymn 
occurs in his Religio Medici, in which he gives an 
account of his opinions. I am not aware of any- 
thing else that he has published in verse, though he 


must probably have written more to be able to write 
this so well. It occurs in the midst of prose, as the 
prayer he says even- night before he yields to the 
death of sleep. I follow it with the succeeding sen- 
tence of the prose. 

The night is come. Like to the day, 
Depart not thou, great God, away. 
Let not my sins, black as the night, 
Eclipse the lustre of thy light. 
Keep .still in my horizon, for to me 
The sun makes not the day but thee. 
Thou whose nature cannot sleep, 
On my temples sentry keep ; 
Guard me 'gainst those watchful foes 
Whose eyes are open while mine close. 
Let no dreams my head infest 
But such as Jacob's temples blest. 
While 1 do rest, my soul advance ; 
.Make my sleep a holy trance, 
'1 hat I may, my rest being wrought, 
Awake into some holy thought, 
And with as active vigour run 
My course as doth the nimble sun. 
Ls a death : ( ) make me try 
By sleeping what it is to die, 
And as gently lay my head 
On my grave, as now my bed. 
I low e'er 1 rest, great God, let me 

ke again at least with thee. 
And thus assured, behold I lie 
Securely, or to wake or die. 
These are my drowsy days : in vain 
I do now waive to sleep again : 

me that hour when I shall never 

Sleep again, but wake for ever. 

u This is the dormitive I take to bedward. I need no 
other laudanum than this to make me sleep ; after 


which I close mine eyes in security, content to take 

my leave of the sun, and sleep unto the resurrection." 

Jeremy Taylor, born in 161 3, was the most poetic 

of English prose-writers: if he had written verse 

equal to his prose, he would have had a lofty place 
amongst poets as well as amongst preachers. Taking 
the opposite side from Milton, than whom he was five 
years younger, he was, like him, conscientious and 
consistent, suffering while Milton's cause prospered, 
and advanced to one of the bishoprics hated of 
Milton's soul when the scales of England's politics 
turned in the other direction. Such men, however, 
are divided only by their intellects. When men say, 
44 I must or I must not, for it is right or it is not right," 
then are they in reality so bound together, even 
should they not acknowledge it themselves, that no 
opposing opinions, no conflicting theories concerning 
what is or is not right, can really part them. It was 
not wonderful that a mind like that of Jeremy Taylor, 
best fitted for worshipping the beauty of holiness, 
should mourn over the disrupted order of his church, 
or that a mind like Milton's, best fitted for the law 
of life, should demand that every part of that order 
which had ceased to vibrate responsive to every throb 
of the eternal heart of truth, should fall into the ruin 
which its death had preceded. The church was 
hardly dealt with, but the rulers of the church have 
to bear the blame. 

Here are those I judge the best of the bishop's 
Festival Hymns y printed as part of his Golden Gn 
or Guide to Devotion. In the first there is a little 


confusion of imagery ; and in others of them will be 
found a little obscurity. They bear marks of the 
careless impatience of rhythm and rhyme of one who 
though ever bursting into a natural trill of song, 
sometimes with more rhymes apparently than he in- 
tended, would yet rather let his thoughts pour them- 
selves out in that unmeasured chant, that " poetry in 
solution," which is the natural speech of the prophet- 
orator. He is like a full river that must flow, which 
rejoices in a flood, and rebels against the constraint 
of mole or conduit. He exults in utterance itself, 
caring little for the mode, which, however, the law of 
his indwelling melody guides though never compels. 
Charmingly diffuse in his prose, his verse ever sounds 
as if it would overflow the banks of its self-imposed 


Lord, come away ; 
Why dost thou stay? 
Thy road Is ready ; and thy paths made straight 

With longing expectation wait 
The consecration of thy beauteous feet. 
Ride on triumphantly : behold we lay 
( )ur lu.sts and proud wills in thy way. 

sanna! welcome to our hearts 1 Lord, here 
Thou hast a temple too, and full as dear 
A s that of Sion, and as full of sin : 
Nothing hut thieves and robbers dwell therein, 
latter, and ehase them forth, and cleanse the floor; 
Crucify them, that they may never more 
Profane that holy place 
Where thou hast chose to set thy lace. 


And then if our .still tongues shall be 
Mute in the praises of thy deity, 
The stones out of the temple-wall 
Shall cry aloud and call 
Hosanna ! and thy glorious footsteps greet. 



1 . Where is this blessed babe 

That hath made 
All the world so full of joy, 

And expectation ; 

That glorious boy 

That crowns each nation 
With a triumphant wreath of blessedness ? 

2. Where should he be but in the throng, 

And among 
His angel ministers that sing 

And take wing 
Just as may echo to his voice, 

And rejoice, 
When wing and tongue and all 
May so procure their happiness? 

3. Rut he hath other waiters now : 

A poor cow 
An ox and mule stand and behold, 

And wonder- 
That a stable should enfold 

Him that can thunder. 

Chorus, ( ) what a gracious God have we ! 

How good ? How great? Even as our misery. 


Awake, my soul, and come away ; 

Put on thy best array, 

Lest if thou longer stay, 
Thou lose some minutes o{ so blest a day. 


Go run, 
And bid good-morrow to the sun ; 

Welcome his safe return 

To Capricorn, 

And that great morn 

Wherein a God was born, 

Whose story none can tell 
But he whose every word's a miracle. 

To-day Almightiness grew weak ; 
The Word itself was mute, and could not speak. 

That Jacob's star which made the sun 
To dazzle if he durst look on, 
Now mantled o'er in Bethlehem's night, 
Borrowed a star to show him light. 

lie that begirt each zone, 

To whom both poles are one, 

Who grasped the zodiac in his hand, 

And made it move or stand, 

Is now by nature man, 

By stature but a span ; 

Eternity is now grown short ; 

A king is born without a court; 

The water thirsts ; the fountain's dry ; 

And life, being born, made apt to die. 

Chorus, Then let our praises emulate and vie 

With his humility ! 
Since he's exiled from skies 

That we might rise, — 
From low estate of men 
1 ,et's sing him up again ! 
Each man wind up his heart 

d'o bear a part 
In that angelic choir, and show 
I [is glory high, as he w as low. 
Let's sing towards men goodwill and charity, 
Peace upon earth, glory to God on high ! 

Hallelujah ! Hallelujah ! 



My soul doth pant towards thee, 

My God, source of eternal life. 

Flesh fights with me : 

Oh end the strife, 
And part us, that in peace I may 

Unci ay 
My wearied spirit, and take 
My flight to thy eternal spring, 
Where, for his sake 
Who is my king, 
I may wash all my tears away, 
That day. 

Thou conqueror of death, 
Glorious triumpher o'er the grave, 
Whose holy breath 
Was spent to save 
Lost mankind, make me to be styled 
Thy child, 
And take me when I die 
And go unto my dust ; my soul 
Above the sky 
With saints enrol, 
That in thy arms, for ever, I 
May lie. 

This last is quite regular, that is, the second stanza 
is arranged precisely as the first, though such will 
appear to be the case without examination : the dis- 
position of the lines, so various in length, is confusing 
though not confused. 

In these poems will be found that love of home- 
liness which is characteristic of all true poets — and 
orators too, in as far as they are poets. The meeting 
of the homely and the grand is heaven. One more. 



Full of mercy, full of love, 

Look upon us from above ; 

Thou who taught'st the blind man's night 

To entertain a double light, 

Thine and the day's — and that thine too : 

The lame away his crutches threw ; 

The parched crust of leprosy 

Returned unto its infancy ; 

The dumb amazed was to hear 

His own unchain'd tongue strike his ear ; 

Thy powerful mercy did even chase 

The devil from his usurped place, 

Where thou thyself shouldst dwell, not he : 

Oh let thy love our pattern be ; 

Let thy mercy teach one brother 

To forgive and love another ; 

That copying thy mercy here, 

Thy goodness may hereafter rear 

Our souls unto thy glory, when 

Our dust shall cease to be with men. Amen. 



Dr. HENRY MORE was born in the year 1614. 
Chiefly known for his mystical philosophy, which he 
cultivated in retirement at Cambridge, and taught not 
only in prose, but in an elaborate, occasionally poetic 
poem, of somewhere about a thousand Spenserian 
stanzas, called .1 Platonic Song of the Soul, he has left 
some smaller poems, from which I shall gather good 
store for my readers. Whatever may be thought of 
his theories, they belong at least to the highest order 
of philosophy ; and it will be seen from the poems I 
give that the}" must have borne their part in lifting 
the soul of the man towards a lofty spiritual condition 
of faith and fearlessness. The mystical philosophy 
seems to me safe enough in the hands of a poet : with 
others it may degenerate into dank and dusty mate- 


Where's now the objects of thy fears, 
Needless sighs, and fruitless tears? 
They be all gone like idle dream 
S invested from the body's steam. 

2 2 4 EXGL A ND >S A N TIP HON. 

What's plague and prison? Loss of friends? 
War, dearth, and death that all tilings ends ? 
Mere bugbears for the childish mind ; 
Pure panic terrors of the blind. 

Collect thy soul unto one sphere 
Of light, and 'bove the earth it rear ; 
Those wild scattered thoughts that erst 
Lay loosely in the world dispersed, 
Call in : — thy spirit thus knit in one 
Fair lucid orb, those fears be gone 
Like vain impostures of the night, 
That fly before the morning bright. 
Then with pure eyes thou shalt behold 
How the first goodness doth infold 
All things in loving tender arms ; 
That deemed mischiefs are no harms, 
But sovereign salves and skilful cures 
Of greater woes the world endures ; 
That man's stout soul may win a state 
Far raised above the reach of fate. 

Then wilt thou say, God rules the world, 
Though mountain over mountain hurled 
Be pitched amid the foaming main 
Which busy winds to wrath constrain ; 

•*<- *• *• ' * 

Though pitchy blasts from hell up-born 

Stop the outgoings of the morn, 

And Nature play her fiery games 

In this forced night, with fulgurant flames : 


All this confusion cannot move 

The purged mind, freed from the love 

Of commerce with her bod)- dear, 

Cell of sad thoughts, sole spring of fear. 

Whate'er 1 feel or hear or see 
Threats but these parts that mortal be. 

Nought can the honest heart dismay 
Unless the love of living clay, 

HENR J ' Mi >RE } S RESOL I r TI( )N. 

And long acquaintance with the light 
Of this outworld, and what to sight 
Those two officious beams 1 discover 
Of forms that round about us hover. 

Power, wisdom, goodness, sure did frame 
This universe, and still guide the same. 
But thoughts from passions sprung, deceive 
Vain mortals. No man can contrive 
A better course than what's been run 
Since the first circuit of the sun. 

He that beholds all from on high 
Knows better what to do than I. 
I'm not mine own : should I repine 
If he dispose of what's not mine ? 
Purge but thy soul of blind self-will, 
Thou straight shalt see God doth no ill. 
The world he fills with the bright rays 
Of his free goodness. He displays 
Himself throughout. Like common air 
That spirit of life through all doth fare, 
Sucked in by them as vital breath 
That willingly embrace not death. 
But those that with that living law 
Be unacquainted, cares do gnaw ; 
Mistrust of God's good providence 
Doth daily vex their wearied sense. 

Now place me on the Libyan soil, 
With scorching sun and sands to toil, 
Far from the view of spring or tree, 
Where neither man nor house I sec ; 

* * * * 

Commit me at my next remove 

To icy Hyperborean Jove ; 

Confine me to the arctic pole, 

Where the numb'd heavens do slowly roll ; 

1 It is the light of the soul going out from the eyes, as certainly as 
the light of the world coming in at the eyes that makes things S 
S.L. iv. Q 


To lands where cold raw heavy mist 

Sol's kindly warmth and light resists ; 

Where lowering clouds full fraught with snow 

1 )o sternly scowl ; where winds do blow 

With bitter blasts, and pierce the skin, 

Forcing the vital spirits in, 

Which leave the body thus ill bested, 

In this chill plight at least half-dead ; 

Yet by an antiperistasis l 

My inward heat more kindled is ; 

And while this flesh her breath expires, 

My spirit shall suck celestial fires 

]>y deep-fetched sighs and pure devotion. 

Thus waxen hot with holy motion, 

At once I'll break forth in a flame ; 

Above this world and worthless fame 

I'll take my flight, careless that men 

Know not how, where I die, or when. 

Yea, though the soul should mortal prove, 

So be God's life but in me move 

To my last breath — I'm satisfied 

A lonesome mortal God to have died. 

This last paragraph is magnificent as any single 
passage I know in literature. 

Is it lawful, after reading this, to wonder whether 
Henry More, the retired, and so far untried, student 
of Cambridge, would have been able thus to meet 
the alternations of suffering which he imagines? It 
is one thing to see reasonableness, another to be 
reasonable when objects have become circumstances. 
Would he, then, by spiritual might, have risen indeed 
above bodily torture ? It is possible for a man to 
arrive at this perfection ; it is absolutely necessary 
that a man should some day or other reach it ; and 

1 The action by whieh a body attacked collects force by opposition. 


I think the wise doctor would have proved the 
truth of his principles. But there are many who 
would gladly part with their whole bodies rather than 
offend, and could not yet so rise above the invasions 
of the senses. Here, as in less important things, our 
business is not to speculate what we would do in 
other circumstances, but to perform the duty of the 
moment, the one true preparation for the duty to 
come. Possibly, however, the right development of 
our human relations in the world may be a more 
difficult and more important task still than this con- 
dition of divine alienation. To find God in others 
is better than to grow solely in the discovery of him 
in ourselves, if indeed the 1 tter were possible. 


Good God, when thou thy inward grace dost shower 
Into my breast, 
How full of light and lively power 
Is then my soul ! 
How am I blest ! 
How can I then all difficulties devour ! 
Thy might, 
Thy spright, 
With ease my cumbrous enemy control. 

If thou once turn away thy face and hide 
Thy cheerful look, 
My feeble flesh may not abide 

That dreadful stound ; hour. 

I cannot brook 
Thy absence. My heart, with care and grief then gride. 

Cut roughly through. 


Doth fail, 
Doth quail ; 
My life steals from me at that hidden wound. 

My fancy's then a burden to my mind ; 
Mine anxious thought 
Betrays my reason, makes me blind ; 

Near dangers drad dreaded. 

Make me distraught ; 
Surprised with fear my senses all I find : 
In hell 
I dwell, 
Oppressed with horror, pain, and sorrow sad. 

My former resolutions all are fled — 
Slipped over my tongue ; 
My faith, my hope, and joy are dead. 
Assist my heart, 
Rather than my song, 
My God, my Saviour ! When I'm ill-bested, 
Stand by, 
And I 
Shall bear with courage undeserved smart. 


Sing aloud ! — His praise rehearse 

Who hath made the universe. 

He the boundless heavens has spread, 

All the vital orbs has kned, kneaded. 

lie that on Olympus high 

Tends his flocks with watchful eye, 

And this eye has multiplied suns, as centres of systems. 

Midst each Hock for to reside. 

Thus, as round about they stray, 

Toucheth l each with outstretched ray ; 

Nimble they hold on their way, 

Shaping out their night and day. 

Summer, winter, autumn, spring, 

Their inclined axes bring. 

Never slack they ; none respires, 

Dancing round their central fires. 

1 Intransitively used. They touch each other. 


In due order as they move, 
Echoes sweet be gently drove 
Thorough heaven's vast hollown 

Which unto all corners press: 
Music that the heart of Jove 
Moves to joy and sportful love ; 
Fills the listening sailers 1 cars 
Riding on the wandering spheres : 
Neither speech nor language is 
Where their voice is not transmiss. 

God is good, is wise, is strong, 

Witness all the creature throng, 

Is confessed by every tongue ; 

All things back from whence they sprung, 1*0 back : a verb. 

As the thankful rivers pay 

What they borrowed of the sea. 

Now myself I do resign : 
Take me whole: I all am thine. 
Save me, God, from self-desire — 
Death's pit, dark hell's raging fire — ' 
Envy, hatred, vengeance, ire ; 
Let not lust my soul bemire. 

Quit from these, thy praise I'll sing, 
Loudly sweep the trembling string. 
Bear a part, O Wisdom's sons, 
Freed from vain religions ! 
Lo! from far I you salute, 
Sweetly warbling on my lute — 
India, Egypt, Araby, 
Asia, Greece, and Tartary, 
Carmel-tracts, and Lebanon, 
With the Mountains of the Moon, 
From whence muddy Nile doth run, 
( )r wherever else you won : 
Breathing in one vital air, 
One we are though distant far. 

Self-desire, which is death's pit, &c 


Rise at once ; — let's sacrifice : 
Odours sweet perfume the skies ; 
See how heavenly lightning fires 
Hearts inflamed with high aspires ! 
All the substance of our souls 
Up in clouds of incense rolls. 
Leave we nothing to ourselves 
Save a voice — what need we else ! 
Or an hand to wear and tire 
On the thankful lute or lyre ! 

Sing aloud ! — His praise rehearse 
Who hath made the universe. 

In this Philosopher's Devotion he has clearly imitated 
one of those psalms of George Sandys which I have 


Far have I clambered in my mind, 
But nought so great as love I find : 
Deep-searching wit, mount-moving might, 
Are nought compared to that good sprite. 
Life of delight and soul of bliss ! 
Sure source of lasting happiness ! 
Higher than heaven! lower than hell ! 
What is thy tent ? Where may'st thou dwell ? 

" My mansion Light Humility, is named. 

Heaven's vastest capability. 

The further it doth downward tend, 

The higher up it doth ascend ; 

If it go down to utmost nought, 

It shall return with that it sought." 

Lord, stretch thy tent in my strait breast ; 

Enlarge it downward, that sure rest 

May there be pight for that pure fire pitched. 

Wherewith thou wontest to inspire 

All self-dead souls : my life is gone; 

Sad solitude's my irksome won ; dwelling. 


Cut off from men and all this world, 

In Lethe's lonesome ditch I'm hurled ; 

Nor might nor sight doth ought me move, 

Nor do I care to be above. 

O feeble rays of mental light, 

That best be seen in this dark night, 

What are you? What is any strength 

If it be not laid in one length 

With pride or love? I nought desire 

But a new life, or quite to expire. 

Could I demolish with mine eye 

Strong towers, stop the fleet stars in sky, 

Uring down to earth the pale-faced moon, 

Or turn black midnight to bright noon ; 

Though all things were put in my hand — 

As parched, as dry as the Libyan sand 

Would be my life, if charity 

Were wanting. But humility 

Is more than my poor soul durst crave 

That lies entombed in lowly grave ; 

But if 'twere lawful up to send 

My voice to heaven, this should it rend : 

" Lord, thrust me deeper into dust, 

That thou may'st raise me with the just." 

There are strange things and worth pondering in 
all these. An occasional classical allusion seems to 
us quite out of place, but such things we must pass. 
The poems are quite different from any we have had 
before. There has been only a few of such writers in 
our nation, but I suspect those have had a good deal 
more influence upon the religious life of it than many 
thinkers suppose. They are in closest sympathy with 
the deeper forms of truth employed by St. Paul and 
St. John. This last poem, concerning humility as the 
house in which charity dwells, is very truth. A re- 
pentant sinner feels that he is making himself little 
when he prays to be made humble : the Christian 


philosopher sees such a glory and spiritual wealth 
in humility that it appears to him almost too much 
to pray for. 

The very essence of these mystical writers seems 
to me to be poetry. They use the largest figures for 
the largest spiritual ideas — light for good, darkness for 
evil. Such symbols are the true bodies of the true 
ideas. For this service mainly what we term nature 
was called into being, namely, to furnish forms for 
truths, for without form truth cannot be uttered. 
Having found their symbols, these writers next pro- 
ceed to use them logically ; and here begins the pecu- 
liar danger. When the logic leaves the poetry behind, 
it grows first presumptuous, then hard, then narrow 
and untrue to the original breadth of the symbol ; the 
glory of the symbol vanishes ; and the final result 
is a worship of the symbol, which has withered into 
an apple of Sodom. Witness some of the writings 
of the European master of the order — Swedenborg : 
the highest of them are rich in truth ; the lowest 
are poverty-stricken indeed. 

In 1 615 was born Richard Baxter, one of the 
purest and wisest and devoutest of men — and no 
mean poet either. If ever a man sought between con- 
tending parties to do his duty, siding with each as 
each appeared right, opposing each as each appeared 
wrong, surely that man was Baxter. Hence he fared 
as all men too wise to be partisans must fare — - 
he pleased neither Royalists nor Puritans. Dull of 
heart and sadly unlike a mother was the Church 
when, by the Act of Uniformity of Charles II., she 


drove from her bosom such a son, with his two 
thousand brethren of the clergy ! 

He has left us a good deal of verse — too much, 
perhaps, if we consider the length of the poems and 
the value of condensation. There is in many of 
them a delightful fervour of the simplest love to God, 
uttered with a plain half poetic, half logical strength, 
from which sometimes the poetry breaks out clear and 
fine. Much that he writes is of death, from the dread 
of which he evidently suffered — a good thing when it 
drives a man to renew his confidence in his Saviour's 
presence. It has with him a very different origin from 
the vulgar fancy that to talk about death is religious. 
It was refuge from the fear of death he sought, and 
that is the part of even* man who would not be a 
slave. The door of death of which he so often speaks 
is to him a door out of the fear of death. 

The poem from which the following excerpt is 
made was evidently written in view of some imminent 
suffering for conscience-sake, probably when the Act 
of Uniformity was passed : twenty years after, he 
was imprisoned at the age of sixty-seven, and lay 
nearly a year and a half. — I omit many verses. 


If-; no great matter what men deem, 

Whether they count me good or bad : 
In their applause and best esteem, 

There's no contentment to be had. 
Thy steps, Lord, in this dirt I see ; 

And lest my soul from God should sti 
I'll bear my cross and follow thee : 

Let others choose the fairer way. 


My face is meeter for the spit ; 

I am more suitable to shame, 
And to the taunts of scornful wit : 

It's no great matter for my name. 

My Lord hath taught me how to want 

A place wherein to put my head : 
While he is mine, I'll be content 

To beg or lack my daily bread. 
Must I forsake the soil and air 

Where first I drew my vital breath ? 
Tli at way may be as near and fair : 

Thence I may come to thee by death. 
All countries are my Father's lands ; 

Thy sun, thy love, doth shine on all ; 
We may in all lift up pure hands, 

And with acceptance on thee call. 

What if in prison I must dwell ? 

May I not there converse with thee? 
Save me from sin, thy wrath, and hell, 

Call me thy child, and I am free. 
No walls or bars can keep thee out ; 

None can confine a holy soul ; 
The streets of heaven it walks about ; 

None can its liberty control. 
This flesh hath drawn my soul to sin : 

If it must smart, thy will be done ! 
( ) fill me with thy joys within, 

And then I'll let it grieve alone. 

Frail, sinful flesh is loath to die; 

to the unseen world is strange ; 
The doubting soul dreads the Most High, 

And trembleth at so great a change. 
( ) let me not be strange at home, 

Strange to the sun and life of souls, 
Choosing this low and darkened room, 

Familiar with worms and moles! 
Am I the first that go this way? 

I low many saints are gone before ! 
How many enter every day 

Into thy kingdom by this door! 


Christ was once dead, and in a grave ; 

Vet conquered death, and rose again; 
And by this method he will save 

His servants that with him shall reign. 
The strangeness will be quickly over, 

When once the heaven-born soul is there: 
One sight of God will it recover 

From all this backwardness and fear. 
To us, Christ's lowest parts, his feet, 

Union and faith must yet suffice 
To guide and comfort us : it's meet 

We trust our head who hath our eves. 

We see here that faith in the Lord leads Richard 
Baxter to the same conclusions immediately to which 
his faithful philosophy led Henry More. 

There is much in Baxter's poems that I would 
gladly quote, but must leave with regret. Here is a 
curious, skilful, and, in a homely way, poetic ballad, 
embodying a good parable. I give only a few of the 


Who was it that I left behind 

When I went last from home, 
That now I all disordered find 

When to myself I come ? 

I left it light, but now all's dark, 

And I am fain to grope : 
Were it not for one little spark 

1 should be out of hope. 

My Gospel-book I open left, 

Where I the promise saw ; 
But now I doubt it's lost by theft : 

I find none but the Law. 


The stormy rain an entrance hath 

Through the uncovered top : 
1 low should I rest when showers of wrath 

Upon my conscience drop ? 

I locked my jewel in my chest ; 

I'll search lest that be gone : — ■ 
If this one guest had quit my breast, 

I had been quite undone. 

My treacherous Flesh had played its part, 

And opened wSin the door; 
And they have spoiled and robbed my heart, 

And left it sad and poor. 

Vet have I one great trusty friend 

That will procure my peace, 
And all this loss and ruin mend, 

And purchase my release. 

The bellows I'll yet take in hand, 

Till this small spark shall flame : 
Love shall my heart and tongue command 

To praise God's holy name. 

I'll mend the roof; I'll watch the door, 

And better keep the key ; 
I'll trust my treacherous flesh no more, 
But force it to obey. 

What have T said ? That I'll do this 

That am so false and weak, 
And have so often done amiss, 

And did my covenants break? 

I mean, Lord — all this shall be done 

If thou my heart wilt raise ; 
And as the work must be thine own, 

So also shall the praise. 

The allegory is so good that one is absolutely sorry 
when it breaks clown, and the poem says in plain 
words that which is the subject of the figures, bring- 


ing truths unmasked into the midst of the maskers 
who represent truths — thus interrupting the pleasure 
of the artistic sense in the transparent illusion. 

The command of metrical form in Baxter is some- 
what remarkable. He has not much melody, but he 
keeps good time in a variety of measures. 



I COME now to one of the loveliest of our angel- 
birds, Richard Crashaw. Indeed he was like a bird 
in more senses than one ; for he belongs to that class 
of men who seem hardly ever to get foot-hold of 
this world, but are ever floating in the upper air of it. 

What I said of a peculiar yEolian word-music 
in William Drummond applies with equal truth to 
Crashaw ; while of our own poets, somehow or other, 
he reminds me of Shelley, in the silvery shine and 
bell-like melody both of his verse and his imagery ; 
and in one of his poems, Music s Duel, the fineness 
of his phrase reminds me of Keats. But I must not 
forget that it is only with his sacred, his best poems 
too, that I am now concerned. 

The date of his birth is not known with certainty, 
but it is judged about 1616, the year of Shakspcre's 
death, lie was the son of a Protestant clergyman 
zealous even to controversy. By a not unnatural 
reaction Crashaw, by that time, it is said, a popular 
preacher, when expelled from Oxford in 1644 by the 
Puritan Parliament because of his refusal to sign 


their Covenant, became a Roman Catholic. He died 
about the age of thirty-four, a canon of the Church of 
Loretto. There is much in his verses of that sentimen- 
talism which, I have already said in speaking of South- 
well, is rife in modern Catholic poetry. I will give 
from Crashaw a specimen of the kind of it. A void- 
ing a more sacred object, one stanza from a poem 
of thirty-one, most musical, and full of lovely speech 
concerning the tears of Mary Magdalen, will suit my 

Hail, sister springs, 
Parents of silver-footed rills ! 

Ever-bubbling things ! 
Thawing crystal ! Snowy hills, 
Still spending, never spent ! — I mean 
Thy fair eyes, sweet Magdalene ! 

The poem is called The Weeper, and is radiant of 
delicate fancy. But surely such tones are not worthy 
of flitting moth-like about the holy sorrow of a re- 
pentant woman ! Fantastically beautiful, they but 
play with her grief. Sorrow herself would put her 
shoes off her feet in approaching the weeping Mag- 
dalene. They make much of her indeed, but they 
show her little reverence. There is in them, notwith- 
standing their fervour of amorous words, a coldness 
like that which dwells in the ghostly beauty of icicles 
shining in the moon. 

But I almost reproach myself for introducing 
Crashaw thus. I had to point out the fact, and 
now having done with it, I could heartily wish I had 
room to expatiate on his loveliness even in such 
poems as The Weeper. 


His Divine Epigrams are not the most beautiful, 
but they are to me the most valuable of his verses, 
inasmuch as they make us feel afresh the truth which 
he sets forth anew. In them some of the facts of our 
Lord's life and teaching look out upon us as from 
clear windows of the past. As epigrams, too, they 
are excellent — pointed as a lance. 

Upon the SepuleJire of our Lord. 

Here, where our Lord once laid his head. 
Now the grave lies buried. 

The Widow's Mites. 

Two mites, two drops, yet all her house and land, 
Fall from a steady heart, though trembling hand ; 
The other's wanton wealth foams high and brave : 
The other cast away — she only gave. 

0)i the Prodigal. 

Tell me, bright boy ! tell me, my golden lad ! 
Whither away SO frolic ? Why so glad? 

What ! all thy wealth in council? all thy state? 
Are husks so dear? Troth, 'tis a mighty rate ! 

I value the following as a lovely parable. Mary 
is not contented: to see the place is little comfort. 
The church itself, with all its memories of the Lord, 
the gospel-story, and all theory about him, is but his 
tomb until we find himself. 

Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 

Show me himself, himself, bright sir! Oh show 
Which way my poor tears to himself may go. 


Were it enough to show the place, and say, 
11 Look, Mary ; here see where thy Lord once lay ;" 
Then could I show these arms of mine, and say, 
" Look, Mary ; here see where thy Lord once lay." 

From one of eight lines, on the Mother Mary 
looking on her child in her lap, I take the last two, 

complete in themselves, and I think best alone. 

This new guest to her eyes new laws hath given : 
'Twas once look up, 'tis now look doivn to hea 

And here is perhaps his best. 

Two went up into the Temple io pray. 
Two went to pray ? Oh rather say, 
( )ne went to brag, the other to pray. 

( )ne stands up close, and treads on high, 
Where the other dares not lend his e; 

One nearer to God's altar trod ; 
The other to the altar's God. 

This appears to me perfect. Here is the true 
relation between the forms and the end of religion. 
The priesthood, the altar and all its ceremonies, must 
vanish from between the sinner and his God. When 
the priest forgets his mediation of a servant, his duty 
of a door-keeper to the temple of truth, and takes 
upon him the office of an intercessor, he stands 
between man and God, and is a Satan, an adversary. 
Artistically considered, the poem could hardly be 

Here is another containing a similar lesson. 
I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my 

Thy God was making haste into thy roof; 
Thy humble faith and fear keeps him aloof. 
He'll be thy guest : because he may not be, 
He'll come— into thy house? No ; u 
s.t.. iv. R 


The following is a world-wide intercession for them 
that know not what they do. Of those that reject the 
truth, who can be said ever to have truly seen it ? A 
man must be good to see truth. It is a thought 
suggested by our Lord's words, not an irreverent 
opposition to the truth of them. 

But now they have seen and Jiatcd. 

Seen ? and yet hated tJice? They did not see — 
They saw thee not, that saw and hated thee ! 
No, no ; they saw thee not, O Life ! O Love ! 
Who saw aught in thee that their hate could move. 

We must not be too ready to quarrel with even- 
oddity : an oddity wall sometimes just give the start 
to an outbreak of song. The strangeness of the 
following hymn rises almost into grandeur. 


Rise, heir of fresh eternity, 
From thy virgin-tomb ; 
Rise, mighty man of wonders, and thy world with thee ; 
Thy tomb, the universal East — 
Nature's new womb ; 
Thy tomb — fair Immortality's perfumed nest. 

Of all the glories 1 make noon gay 
This is the morn ; 
This rock buds forth the fountain of the streams of day ; 
In joy's white annals lives this hour, 
When life was born, 
No cloud-scowl on his radiant lids, no tempest-lower. 

1 Which understood. 


Life, by this light's nativity, 
All creatures have ; 
Death only by this day's just doom is forced to die. 
Nor is death forced ; for, may he lie 
Throned in thy grave, 
Death will on this condition be content to die. 

When we come, in the writings of one who has 
revealed masterdom, upon any passage that seems 
commonplace, or any figure that suggests nothing 
true, the part of wisdom is to brood over that point ; 
for the probability is that the barrenness lies in us, 
two factors being necessary for the result of sight — 
the thing to be seen and the eye to see it. No doubt 
the expression may be inadequate, but if we can 
compensate the deficiency by adding more vision, so 
much the better for us. 

In the second stanza there is a strange combination 
of images : the rock buds ; and buds a fountain ; the 
fountain is light. But the images are so much one 
at the root, that they slide gracefully into each other, 
and there is no confusion or incongruity : the result is 
vn inclined plane of development. 

I now come to the most musical and most graceful, 
therefore most lyrical, of his poems. I have left out 
just three stanzas, because of the sentimentalism of 
which I have spoken : I would have left out more if 
I could have done so without spoiling the symmetry 
of the poem. My reader must be friendly enough to 
one who is so friendly to him, to let his peculiarities 
pass unquestioned — amongst the rest his conceits, as 
well as the trifling discord that the shepherds should 
be called, after the classical fashion — ill agreeing, 

R 2 


from its associations, with Christian song — Tityrus 
and Thyrsis. 


Chorus. Come, we shepherds, whose blest sight 
Hath met love's noon in nature's night ; 
Come, lift we up our loftier song, 
And wake the sun that lies too long. 

To all our world of well-stolen 1 joy- 
He slept, and dreamed of no such thing, 

While we found out heaven's fairer eye, 
And kissed the cradle of our king : 

Tell him he rises now too late 

To show us aught worth looking at. 

Tell him we now can show him more 
Than he e'er showed to mortal sight — 

Than he himself e'er saw before, 

Which to be seen needs not his light : 

Tell him, Tityrus, where thou hast been ; 

Tell him, Thyrsis, what thou hast seen. 

Tityrus. Gloomy night embraced the place 
Where the noble infant lay : 
The babe looked up and showed his face : 

In spite of darkness it was clay. 
It was thy day, sweet, ami did rise 
Not from the east, but from thy eyes. 

Chorus. It was thy day, sweet, &c. 

Thyrsis. Winter chid aloud, and sent 

The angry north to wage his wars : 
The north forgot his fierce intent, 

And left perfumes instead of scars. 
By those sweet eyes' persuasive powers, 
Where he meant frosts, lie scattered flowers. 
Chorus. By those sweet eyes', &c. 

1 How unpleasant conceit can become. The joy of seeing the Saviour 
was stolen because they gained it in the absence of the sun ! 


Both. We saw thee in thy balmy nest, 

Young dawn of our eternal day; 
We saw thine eyes break from the east, 

And chase the trembling shades away. 
We saw thee, and we blessed the sight ; 
We saw thee by thine own sweet light. 
Chorus. We saw thee, cVc. 

Tityrus. " Poor world," said I, "what wilt thou do 
To entertain this starry stranger ? 
Is this the best thou canst bestow — 

A cold and not too cleanly manger? 
Contend, the powers of heaven and earth, 
To fit a bed for this huge birth." 

Chorus, Contend, the powers, &c. 

Thyrsis. " Proud world," said I, " cease your contest, 
And let the mighty babe alone : 
The phoenix builds the phoenix' nest — 

Love's architecture is his own. 
The babe, whose birth embraves this morn, 
Made his own bed ere he was born." 

Chorus. The babe, whose birth, &c. 

Tityrus. I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow, 

Come hovering o'er the place's head, 
Offering their whitest sheets of snow 

To furnish the fair infant's bed : 
"Forbear," said I ; "be not too bold : 
Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold." 
Chorus. "Forbear," said I, cVc. 

Thyrsis. I saw the obsequious seraphim 

Their rosy fleece of fire bestow ; 
For well they now can spare their wings, 

Since heaven itself lies here below. 
11 W T ell done," said I ; " but are you sure 
Your down, so warm, will pass for pure?" 
Chorus. "Well done," said I, &c. 


Full Chorus, Welcome all wonders in one sight ! 
Eternity shut in a span ! 
Summer in winter ! day in night ! 
Heaven in earth, and God in man ! 

Great little one, whose all-embracing birth 
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth ! 

* * * * 

Welcome — though not to those gay Hies 
Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings — ■ 

Slippery souls in smiling eyes — 

But to poor shepherds, homespun things, 

Whose wealth's their flocks, whose wit's to be 

Well read in their simplicity. 

Vet when young April's husband showers 

Shall bless the fruitful Maia's bed, 
We'll bring the firstborn of her flowers 

To kiss thy feet, and crown thy head : 
To thee, dear Lamb ! whose love must keep 
The shepherds while they feed their sheep. 

To thee, meek Majesty, soft king 

Of simple graces and sweet loves, 
Each of us his lamb will bring, 

Each his pair of silver doves. 
At last, in fire of thy fair eyes, 
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice. 

A splendid line to end with ! too good for the pre- 
ceding one. All temples and altars, all priesthoods 
and prayers, must vanish in this one and only sacri- 
fice. Exquisite, however, as the poem is, we cannot 
help wishing it looked less heathenish. Its decora- 
tions are certainly meretricious. 

From a few religious poems of Sir Edward Sher- 
burne, another Roman Catholic, and a firm adherent 
of Charles I., I choose the following — the only one I 
care for. 



Happy crib, that wert, alone, 

To my God, bed, cradle, throne ! 
Whilst thy glorious vileness I 

View with divine fancy's eye, 
Sordid filth seems all the cost, 
State, and splendour, crowns do boast. 

See heaven's sacred majesty 
Humbled beneath poverty ; 
Swaddled up in homely rags, 
On a bed of straw and flags ! 
He whose hands the heavens displayed, 
And the world's foundations laid, 
From the world 's almost exiled, 
Of all ornaments despoiled. 
Perfumes bathe him not, new-born ; 
Persian mantles not adorn ; 
Nor do the rich roofs look bright 
With the jasper's orient light. 

Where, O royal infant, be 
The ensigns of thy majesty ; 
Thy Sire's equalizing state; 
And thy sceptre that rules fate ? 
Where's thy angel-guarded throne, 
Whence thy laws thou didst make known — 
Laws which heaven, earth, hell obeyed ? 
These, ah ! these aside he laid ; 
Would the emblem be — of pride 
By humility outvied. 

I pass by Abraham Cowley, mighty reputation as 
he lias had, without further remark than that he is 
too vulgar to be admired more than occasionally, and 
too artificial almost to be, as a poet, loved at all. 

Andrew Marvell, member of Parliament for Hull 
both before and after the Restoration, was twelve 
years younger than his friend Milton. Any one of 


some half-dozen of his few poems is to my mind 
worth all the verse that Cowley ever made. It is a 
pity he wrote so little ; but his was a life as diligent, 
I presume, as it was honourable. 


See how the orient dew, 

Shed from the bosom of the morn 
Into the blowing roses, 
Yet careless of its mansion new 

For the clear region where 'twas born, 

Round in itself encloses, used intransitively. 

And in its little globe's extent, 
Frames as it can its native element. 
Flow it the purple flower does slight. 

Scarce touching where it lies, 
But gazing back upon the skies, 
Shines with a mournful light, 
Like its own tear, 
Because so long divided from the sphere : 
Restless it rolls, and unsecure, 

Trembling lest it grow impure, 
Till the warm sun pity its pain, 
And to the skies exhale it back again. 

So the soul, that drop, that ray 
Of the clear fountain of eternal day, 
Could it within the human flower be seen, 
Remembering still its former height, 
Shuns the sweet leaves and blossoms green ; 
And, recollecting its own light, 
Does, in its pure and circling thoughts, express 
The greater heaven in an heaven less. 
In how coy a figure wound, 
Every way it turns away, 
So the world excluding round, 

Vet receiving in the day; 
Dark beneath but bright above, 
Here disdaining, there in love. 


How loose and easy hence to go ! 

How girt and ready to ascend ! 
Moving hut on a point below, 

It all about does upwards bend. 
Such did the manna's sacred dew distil — 
White and entire, 1 though congealed and chill — 
Congealed on earth, but does, dissolving, run 
Into the glories of the almighty sun. 

Surely a lovely fancy of resemblance, exquisitely 
wrought out ; an instance of the lighter play of the 
mystical mind, which yet shadows forth truth. 


When for the thorns with which I long too long, 

With many a piercing wound, 

My Saviour's head have crowned, 
I seek with garlands to redress that wrong, 

Through every garden, every mead 
I gather flowers — my fruits are only flowers 

Dismantling all the fragrant towers 
That once adorned my shepherdess's head ; 
And now, when I have summed up all my store, 

Thinking — so I myself deceive — 

So rich a chaplet thence to weave 
As never yet the King of glory wore; 

Alas ! I find the serpent old, 

That, twining in his speckled breast, 

About the flowers disguised does fold, 

With wreaths of fame and interest. 
Ah, foolish man that wouldst debase with them 
And mortal glory, heaven's diadem ! 
But thou who only couldst the serpent tame, 
Either his slippery knots at once untie, 
And disentangle all his winding snare, 
Or shatter too with him my curious frame,' 

A trisyllable. - His i ■ a 


And let these wither, that so he may die, 
Though set with skill, and chosen out with care ; 
That they, while thou on both their spoils dost tread, 
May crown thy feet that could not crown thy head. 

A true sacrifice of worship, if not a garland of 
praise ! The disciple would have his works tried by 
the fire, not only that the gold and the precious 
stones may emerge relucent, but that the wood and 
hay and stubble may perish. The will of God alone, 
not what we may have effected, deserves our care. 
In the perishing of our deeds they fall at his feet : 
in our willing their loss we crown his head. 



WE have now arrived at the borders of a long, dreary 
tract, which, happily for my readers, I can shorten 
for them in this my retrospect. From the heights 
of Henry Vaughan's verse, I look across a stony 
region, with a few feeble oases scattered over it, and 
a hazy green in the distance. It does not soften the 
dreariness that its stones are all laid in order, that the 
spaces which should be meadows are skilfully paved. 

Henry Vaughan belongs to the mystical school, 
but his poetry rules his theories. You find no more 
of the mystic than the poet can easily govern ; in fact, 
scarcely more than is necessary to the highest poetry. 
He develops his mysticism upwards, with relation to 
his higher nature alone: it blossoms into poetry. His 
twin-brother Thomas developed his mysticism down- 
wards in the direction of the material sciences — a true 
effort still, but one in which the danger of ceasing to 
be true increases with increasing ratio the further it is 

They were born in South Wales in the year 162 I. 
Thomas was a clergyman ; Henry a doctor of medi- 


cine. Both were Royalists, and both suffered in the 
cause — Thomas by expulsion from his living, Henry 
by imprisonment. Thomas died soon after the 
Restoration ; Henry outlived the Revolution. 

Henry Vaughan was then nearly thirty years 
younger than George Herbert, whom he consciously 
and intentionally imitates. His art is not comparable 
to that of Herbert : hence Herbert remains the master ; 
for it is not the thought that makes the poet ; it is 
the utterance of that thought in worthy presence of 
speech. He is careless and somewhat rugged. If he 
can get his thought dressed, and thus made visible, he 
does not mind the dress fitting awkwardly, or even 
being a little out at elbows. And yet he has grander 
lines and phrases than any in Herbert. He has occa- 
sionally a daring success that strikes one with aston- 
ishment. In a word, he says more splendid things 
than Herbert, though he writes inferior poems. His 
thought is profound and just ; the harmonies in his 
soul are true ; its artistic and musical ear is defective. 
His movements are sometimes grand, sometimes 
awkward. Herbert is always gracious — I use the 
word as meaning much more than graceful. 

The following poem will instance Vaughan's fine 
mysticism and odd embodiment : 

Father of Lights ! what sunny seed, 
What glance of day hast thou confined 
Into this bird? To all the breed 
This busy ray thou hast assigned : 

Their magnetism works all night, 

And dreams of Paradise and light. 


Their eyes watch for the morning hue ; 
Their little grain, 1 expelling night, 
So shines and sings, as if it knew 

The path unto the house- of light : 
It seems their candle, howe'er done, 
Was tined- and lighted at the sun. 

If such a tincture, such a touch, 
So firm a longing can empower, 
Shall thy own image think it much 
To watch for thy appearing hour ? 
If a mere blast so fill the sail, 
Shall not the breath of God prevail? 

O thou immortal Tight and Heat, 
Whose hand so shines through all this frame, 
That by the beauty of the seat, 
We plainly see who made the same ! 
Seeing thy seed abides in me, 
Dwell thou in it, and I in thee. 

To sleep without thee is to die ; 

Yea, 'tis a death partakes of hell ; 

Tor where thou dost not close the eye, 

It never opens, I can tell : 

In such a dark, Egyptian border 

The shades of death dwell and disorder. 

Its joys and hopes and earnest throws, 
And hearts whose pulse beats still for light, 
Are given to birds, who but thee knows 
A love-sick soul's exalted flight ? 
Can souls be tracked by any eye 
But his who gave them wings to fly ? 

Only this veil, which thou hast broke, 

And must be broken yet in me ; 

This veil, I say, is all the cloak 

And cloud which shadows me from thee. 
This veil thy full-eyed love denies, 
And only gleams and fractions spies. 

1 The " sunny seed " in their hearts. 

'-' From tine or ti>ut, to set on tire. Hence 


O take it off. Make no delay, 
But brush me with thy light, that I 
May shine unto a perfect day, 
And warm me at thy glorious eye. 

O take it off; or, till it flee, 

Though with no lily, stay with me. 

I have no room for poems often quoted, therefore 

not for that lovely one beginning " They are all gone 

into the world of light ;" but I must not omit Tlic 

Retreat, for besides its worth, I have another reason 

for presenting it. 


Happy those early days when I 
Shined in my angel-infancy ! 
Before I understood this place 
Appointed for my second race, 
Or taught my soul to fancy ought 
But a white, celestial thought ; 
When yet I had not walked above 
A mile or two from my first love, 
And, looking back, at that short space 
Could see a glimpse of his bright face ; 
When on some gilded cloud or flower 
My gazing soul would dwell an hour, 
And in those weaker glories spy 
Some shadows of eternity; 
Before I taught my tongue to wound 
My conscience with a sinful sound, 
Or had the black art to dispense 
A several sin to every sense ; 
But felt through all this fleshly dress 
Bright shoots of everlastingness. 
O how I long to travel back, 
And tread again that ancient track ! 
That I might once more reach that plain 
Where first I left my glorious train, 
From whence the enlightened spirit sees 
That shady city of palm-trees. 


But ah ! my soul with too much stay 
Is drunk, and staggers in the way ! 
Some men a forward motion love, 
But I by backward steps would move; 
And when this dust falls to the urn, 
In that state I came return. 

Let any one who is well acquainted with Words- 
worth's grand ode — that on the Ititimations of Immor- 
tality — turn his mind to a comparison between that 
and this : he will find the resemblance remarkable. 
Whether The Retreat suggested the form of the 
Ode is not of much consequence, for the Ode is the 
outcome at once and essence of all Wordsworth's 
theories ; and whatever he may have drawn from The 
Retreat is glorified in the Ode. Still it is interesting 
to compare them. Vaughan believes with Words- 
worth and some other great men that this is not our 
first stage of existence ; that we are haunted by 
dim memories of a former state. This belief is not 
necessary, however, to sympathy with the poem, for 
whether the present be our first life or no, we 
have come from God, and bring from him conscience 
and a thousand godlike gifts. — " Happy those early 
days," Vaughan begins : " There was a time," begins 
Wordsworth, "when the earth seemed apparelled 
in celestial light." " Before I understood this place," 
continues Vaughan : " Blank misgivings of a creature 
moving about in worlds not realized," says Words- 
worth. " A white celestial thought," says Vaughan : 
" Heaven lies about us in our infancy," says Words- 
worth. "A mile or two off, I could see his face," 
says Vaughan: " Trailing clouds of glory do we 


come," says Wordsworth. " On some gilded cloud 
or flower, my gazing soul would dwell an hour," 
says Vaughan : " The hour of splendour in the grass, 
of glory in the flower," says Wordsw r orth. 

Wordsworth's poem is the profounder in its philo- 
sophy, as well as far the grander and lovelier in its 
poetry ; but in the moral relation, Vaughan's poem is 
the more definite of the two, and gives us in its 
close, poor as that is compared with the rest of it, just 
what we feel is wanting in Wordsworth's — the hope 
of return to the bliss of childhood. We may be 
comforted for what we lose by what we gain ; but 
that is not a recompense large enough to be divine : 
we want both. Vaughan will be a child again. For 
the movements of man's life are in spirals : we go 
back whence we came, ever returning on our former 
traces, only upon a higher level, on the next up- 
ward coil of the spiral, so that it is a going back 
and a going forward ever and both at once. Life is, 
as it were, a constant repentance, or thinking of it 
again : the childhood of the kingdom takes the place 
of the childhood of the brain, but comprises all that 
was lovely in the former delight. The heavenly 
children will subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, 
wax valiant in fight, rout the armies of the aliens, 
merry of heart as when in the nursery of this world 
they fought their fancied frigates, and defended their 

Here are the beginning and end of another of 
similar purport : 



I cannot reach it ; and my striving eye 
Dazzles at it, as at eternity. 
Were now that chronicle alive, 
Those white designs which children drive, 
And the thoughts of each harmless hour, 
With their content too in my power, 
Quickly would I make my path even, 
And by mere playing go to heaven. 

An age of mysteries ! which he 
Must live twice that would God's face see; 
Which angels guard, and with it play — 
Angels which foul men drive away. 

I low do I study now, and scan 
Thee more than e'er I studied man, 
And only see, through a long night, 
Thy edges and thy bordering light ! 
O for thy centre and mid-day ! 
For sure that is the narrow way ! 

Many a true thought comes out by the help of a 
fancy or half-playful exercise of the thinking power. 
There is a good deal of such fancy in the following 
poem, but in the end it rises to the height of the 
purest and best mysticism. We must not forget 
that the deepest man can utter, will be but the type 
or symbol of a something deeper yet, of which 
he can perceive only a doubtful glimmer. This will 
serve for general remark upon the mystical mode, 
as well as for comment explanatory of the close of 
the poem. 


John iii. 2. 

Through that pure virgin-shrine, 
That sacred veil 1 drawn o'er thy glorious noon, 
That men might look and live, as glowworms shine, 
And face the moon, 

Wise Nicodemus saw such light 

As made him know his God by night. 

Most blest believer he, 
Who in that land of darkness and blind eyes, 
Thy long-expected healing wings could see 
When thou didst rise ! 

And, what can never more be done, 

Did at midnight speak with the sun ! 

O who will tell me where 
He found thee at that dead and silent hour? 
What hallowed solitary ground did bear 
So rare a flower, 

Within whose sacred leaves did lie 

The fulness of the Deity? 

No mercy-seat of gold, 
No dead and dusty cherub, nor carved stone, 
But his own living works did my Lord hold 
And lodge alone, 
Where trees and herbs did watch and peep 
And wonder, while the Jews did sleep. 
Dear night ! this world's defeat ; 
The stop to busy fools ; care's check and curl), 
The day of spirits ; my soul's calm retreat 
Which none disturb ! 
( In ist's progress, and his prayer time,' 2 
The hums to which high heaven doth chime!-" 

1 The body of Jesus. 

- Mark i. 35 ; Luke xxi. 37. The word /////<• must be associated both 
with progress and prayer — his walking-time and prayer-time. 

; 'This is an allusion to the sphere-music : the great heavens is a clock 
whos e those when Jesus retires to his Father; and to these 

hours the sphere-music gives the chime. 


God's silent, searching flight ; l 
When my Lord's head is filled with dew, and all 

His locks arc wet with the clear drops of night, 
His still, soft call ; 
His knocking time; 2 the soul's dumb watch, 
When spirits their fair kindred catch. 

Were all my loud, evil 3 days 
Calm and unhaunted as is thy dark tent, 
Whose peace but by some angel's wing or voice 
Is seldom rent, 

Then I in heaven all the long year 

Would keep, and never wander here. 

But living where the sun 
Doth all things wake, and where all mix and tire 
Themselves and others, I consent and run 
To every mire ; 

And by this world's ill guiding light, 

Err more than I can do by night. 

There is in God, some say, 
A deep but dazzling darkness ; as men here 
Say it is late and dusky, because they 
See not all clear : 

O for that night ! where I in him 

Might live invisible and dim ! 

This is glorious ; and its lesson of quiet and retire- 
ment we need more than ever in these hurried days 
upon which we have fallen. If men would but be still 
enough in themselves to hear, through all the noises 
of the busy light, the voice that is ever talking on 
in the dusky chambers of their hearts ! Look at his 
love for Nature, too ; and read the fourth stanza in 
connexion with my previous remarks upon symbolism. 

1 He continues his poetic synonyms for the night. 
- " Behold I stand at the door and knock." 
s A monosyllable. 

S 2 


I think this poem grander than any of George Her- 
bert's. I use the word with intended precision. 

Here is one, the end of which is not so good, 
poetically considered, as the magnificent beginning, 
but which contains striking lines throughout : — 


Ah ! what time wilt thou come ? When shall that cry, 

The Bridegroom 'j coming, fill the sky ? 

Shall it in trie evening run 

When our words and works are done ? 

Or will thy all-surprising light 

Break at midnight, 

When either sleep or some dark pleasure 

Possesseth mad man without measure ? 

Or shall these early, fragrant hours 

Unlock thy bowers, 1 

And with their blush of light descry 

Thy locks crowned with eternity ? 

Indeed, it is the only time 

That with thy glory doth best chime : 

All now are stirring ; every field 

Full hymns doth yield ; 

The whole creation shakes off night, 

And for thy shadow looks the light ; 2 

Stars now vanish without number ; 

Sleepy planets set and slumber ; 

The pursy clouds disband and scatter ; — 

All expect some sudden matter ; m 

Not one beam triumphs, but, from far, 

That morning-star. 

( ), at what time soever thou, 
Unknown to us, the heavens wilt bow, 
And, with thy angels in the van, 
Descend to judge poor careless man, 

1 Often used for chambers. 

- " The creation looks for the light, thy shadow ? " Or, " The light 
looks for thy shadow, the sun " ? 


Grant I may not like puddle lie 

In a corrupt security, 

Where, if a traveller water crave, 

He finds it dead, and in a grave ; 

But as this restless, vocal spring 

All day and night doth run and sing, 

And though here born, yet is acquainted 

Elsewhere, and, flowing, keeps untainted, 

So let me all my busy age 

In thy free services engage ; 

And though, while here, of force, 1 I must 

Have commerce sometimes with poor dust, 2 

And in my flesh, though vile and low, 

As this doth in her channel, flow, 

Vet let my course, my aim, my love, 

And chief acquaintance be above. 

So when that day and hour shall come, 

In which thyself will be the sun, 

Thou 'It find me drest and on my way, 

Watching the break of thy great day. 

I do not think that description of the dawn has 
ever been surpassed. The verse " All expect some 
sudden matter," is wondrously fine. The water 
" dead and in a grave," because stagnant, is a true 
fancy ; and the " acquainted elsewhere " of the run- 
ning stream, is a masterly phrase. I need not point 
out the symbolism of the poem. 

I do not know a writer, Wordsworth not excepted, 
who reveals more delight in the visions of Nature 
than Henry Vaughan. He is a true forerunner of 
Wordsworth, inasmuch as the latter sets forth with 
only greater profundity and more art than he, the 
relations between Nature and Human Nature ; while, 

1 Perforce: of necessity. 

- lie does not mean his fellows, but his bodily nature. 


on the other hand, he is the forerunner as well of some 
one that must yet do what Wordsworth has left almost 
unattempted, namely — set forth the sympathy of 
Nature with the aspirations of the spirit that is born 
of God, born again, I mean, in the recognition of the 
child's relation to the Father. Both Herbert and 
Vaughan have thus read Nature, the latter turning 
many leaves which few besides have turned. In this 
he has struck upon a deeper and richer lode than even 
Wordsworth, although he has not wrought it with 
half his skill. In any history of the development of 
the love of the present age for Nature, Vaughan, 
although I fear his influence would be found to 
have been small as yet, must be represented as the 
Phosphor of coming dawn. Beside him, Thomson 
is cold, artistic, and gray: although larger in scope, 
he is not to be compared with him in sympathetic 
sight. It is this insight that makes Vaughan a 
mystic. He can see one thing everywhere, and all 
things the same — yet each with a thousand sides 
that radiate crossing lights, even as the airy particles 
around us. For him everything is the expression of, 
and points back to, some fact in the Divine Thought. 
Along the line of every ray he looks towards its 
radiating centre — the heart of the Maker. 

I could give many instances of Vaughan's power 
in reading the heart of Nature, but I may not dwell 
upon this phase. Almost all the poems I give and 
have given will afford such. 


I walked the other day, to spend my hour, 

Into a field, 
Where I sometimes had seen the soil to yield 

A gallant flower ; 
But winter now had ruffled all the bower 

And curious store 
I knew there heretofore. 

Yet I whose search loved not to peep and peer 

I' th' face of things 
Thought with myself, there might be other springs 

Besides this here, 
Which, like cold friends, sees us but once a year ; 

And so the flower 
Might have some other bower. 

Then taking up what I could nearest spy, 

I digged about 
That place where I had seen him to grow out ; 

And by and by 
I saw the warm recluse alone to lie, 

Where fresh and green 
He lived of us unseen. 

Man\- a question intricate and rare 

I >id I there strow ; 

But all I could extort was, that he now 

Did there repair 
Such lus^e> as befell him in this air, 
And would ere long 
Come forth most fair and young. 

This past, I threw the clothes quite o'er his head ; 

And, >tung with fear 
( )f my own frailty, dropped down many a tear 

Upon his bed ; 
Then .sighing, whispered, Happy arc the dead ! 

I I 'hat peace doth now 
Rock Jii» 1 asleep below ! 


And yet, how few believe such doctrine springs 

From a poor root 
Which all the winter sleeps here under foot, 

And hath no wings 
To raise it to the truth and light of things, 

But is still trod 
By every wandering clod ! 

O thou, whose spirit did at first inflame 

And warm the dead ! 
And by a sacred incubation fed 

With life this frame, 
Which once had neither being, form, nor name ! 

Grant I may so 
Thy steps track here below, 

That in these masks and shadows I may see 

Thy sacred way ; 
And by those hid ascents climb to that day 

Which breaks from thee, 
Who art in all things, though invisibly : 

Show me thy peace, 
Thy mercy, love, and ease. 

And from this care, where dreams and sorrows reign, 

Lead me above, 
Where light, joy, leisure, and true comforts move 

\\ ithout all pain : 
There, hid in thee, show me his life again 

At whose dumb urn 
Thus all the year I mourn. 

There are several amongst his poems lamenting, 

like this, the death of some dear friend — perhaps his 
twin-brother, whom he outlived thirty years. 

According to what a man is capable of seeing in 
nature, he becomes either a man of appliance, a man 
of science, a mystic, or a poet. 

I must now give two that are simple in thought, con- 


struction, and music. The latter ought to be popular, 
from the nature of its rhythmic movement, and the 
holy merriment it carries. But in the former, note how 
the major key of gladness changes in the third stanza 
to the minor key of aspiration, which has always 
some sadness in it; a sadness which deepens to grief 
in the next stanza at the consciousness of unfitness 
for Christ's company, but is lifted by hope almost 
again to gladness in the last. 


Awake, glad heart! Get up, and sing! 
It is the birthday of thy king ! 

Awake ! awake ! 

The sun doth shake 
Light from his lock>, and, all the way 
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day. 

Awake! awake! Hark how the wood ring 
Winds whisper, and the busy springs 

A concert make :. 

Awake ! awake ! 
Man is their high-priest, and should rise 
To offer up the sacrifice. 

I would I were some bird or star, 
Fluttering in woods, or lifted far 

Above tins inn 

And road of sin ! 
Then either star or bird should be 
Shining or singing still to thee. 

I would I had in my best part 

bit rooms for thee ! or that my heart 

Were so clean as 

Thy manger was ! 
But I am all filth, and obscene ; ' 
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean. 


Sweet Jesu ! will then. Let no more 
This leper haunt and soil thy door. 

Cure him, ease him ; 

O release him ! 
And let once more, by mystic birth, 
The Lord of life be born in earth. 

The fitting companion to this is his 


I )eath and darkness, get you packing : 
Nothing now to man is lacking. 
All your triumphs now are ended, 
And what Adam marred is mended. 
Graves are beds now for the weary ; 
Death a nap, to wake more merry ; 
Youth now, full of pious duty, 
Seeks in thee for perfect beauty ; 
The weak and aged, tired with length 
( )f days, from thee look for new strength : 
And infants with thy pangs contest, 
As pleasant as if with the breast. 

Then unto him who thus hath thrown 
Even to contempt thy kingdom down, 
And by his blood did us advance 
Unto his own inheritance — 
To him be glory, power, praise. 
From this unto the last of days ! 

We must now descend from this height of true 
utterance into the Valley of Humiliation, and cannot 
do better than console ourselves by listening to the 
boy in mean clothes, of the fresh and well-favoured 
countenance, whom Christiana and her fellow-pilgrims 
hear sin' r inL r in that valley. 


I [e that is down, needs fear no fall ; 

I [e that is low, no pride ; 
He that is humble ever shall 

Have God to be his guide. 

I am content with what I have, 

Little be it or much ; 
And, Lord, contentment still I crave, 

Because thou savest 1 such. 

Fulness to such a burden is 

That go on pilgrimage ; 
Here little, and hereafter bliss, 

Is best from age to age. 

I could not have my book without one word in it 
of John Bunyan, the tinker, probably the gipsy, who 
although born only and not made a poet, like his 
great brother, John Milton, has uttered in prose a 
wealth of poetic thought. He was born in 1628, 
twenty years after Milton. I must not, however, 
remark on this noble Bohemian of literature and 
prophecy ; but leaving at length these flowery hills 
and meadows behind me, step on my way across the 
desert. — England had now fallen under the influence 
of France instead of Italy, and that influence has 
never been for good to our literature, at least. Thence 
its chief aim grew to be a desirable trimness of speech 
and logical arrangement of matter — good external 
qualities purchased at a fearful price with the loss 
of all that makes poetry precious. The poets of 
England, with John Dryden at their head, ceased 
almost for a time to deal with the truths of humanity, 
and gave themselves to the facts and relations of 

1 Savour est? 


society. The nation which could recall the family of 
the Stuarts must necessarily fall into such a decay of 
spiritual life as should render its literature only 
respectable at the best, and its religious utterances 
essentially vulgar. But the decay is gradual. 

Bishop Ken, born in 1637, is known chiefly by 
his hymns for the morning and evening, deservedly 
popular. He has, however, written a great many 
besides — too many, indeed, for variety or excellence 
He seems to have set himself to write them as acts 
of worship. They present many signs of a perversion 
of taste which, though not in them so remarkable, 
rose to a height before long. He annoys us besides 
by the constant recurrence of certain phrases, one 
or two of which are not admirable, and by using, in 
the midst of a simple style, odd Latin words. Here 
are portions of, I think, one of his best, and good it is. 


Ford, 'tis thyself who hast impressed 
In native light on human breast, 
That their Creator all 
Mankind should Father call : 
A father's love all mortals know. 
And (he love filial which they owe-. 

Our Father gives us heavenly light, 
And to he happy, ghostly sighl ; 

IK- Menses, guides, sustains; 

He eases US in pains ; 
Abatements for our weakness makes. 
And never a true child forsakes. 


He waits till the hard heart relents ; 
( Kir self-damnation he Laments ; 

I [e sweetly them invites 

T ■ -hare in heaven's delights ; 
His arms he opens to receive 
All who for past transgressions grieve. 

My Father ! O that name is sweet 
To sinners mourning in retreat. 

God's heart paternal yearns 

When he a change discerns ; 
He to his favour them restores ; 
He heals their most inveterate sores. 
it % * * * 

Religious honour, humble awe ; 
Obedience to our Father's law ; 

A lively grateful sense 

Of tenderness immense ; 
Full trust on God's paternal cares ; 
Submission which chastisement bears ; 

Grief, when his goodness we offend ; 
Zeal, to his likeness to ascend ; 

Will, from the world refined, 

To his sole will resigned : 
These graces in God's children shine, 
Reflections of the love divine. 

*• * * * * 

God's Son co-equal taught us all 
In prayer his Father ours to call : 

Witli confidence in need, 

We to our Father speed : 
Of his own Sun the language dear 
[ntenerates the Father's ear. s tender. 

Thou Father art, though to my shame, 
I often forfeit that dear name : 

But since for .sin I grieve, 

Me fatherdike receive ; 
( ) melt me into filial tear-, 
'I pay of love my vast arrears. 


O Spirit of Adoption! spread 

Thy wings enamouring o'er my head ; 

filial love immense ! 
Raise me to love intense ; 

O Father, source of love divine, 

My powers to love and hymn incline ! 

While God my Father I revere, 

Nor all hell powers, nor death I fear; 

1 am my Father's care ; 
His succours present are. 

All comes from my loved Father's will, 
And that sweet name intends no ill. 

God's Son his soul, when life he closed, 
In his dear Father's hands reposed: 

I'll, when my last I breathe, 

My soul to God bequeath ; 
And panting for the joys on high, 
Invoking Love Paternal, die. 

Born in 1657, one °f the later English Platonists, 
John Norris, who, with how many incumbents between 
I do not know, succeeded George Herbert in the cure 
of Bemerton, has left a few poems, which would have 
been better if he had not been possessed with the 
common admiration for the rough-shod rhythms of 
Abraham Cowley. 

Here is one in which the peculiarities of his theories 
show themselves very prominently. There is a con- 
stant tendency in such to wander into the region half- 
spiritual, half-material. 


How long, great God, bow long must I 
Immured in this dark prison lie- ; 
My soul must watch to have intelligence ; 
Where at the grates and avenues of sense 


Where but faint gleams of thee salute my sight, 
Like doubtful moonshine in a cloudy night? 
When shall I leave this magic sphere, 

And be all mind, all eye, all ear? 

How cold this clime ! And yet my sense 

Perceives even here thy influence. 
Even here thy strong magnetic charms I feel, 
And pant and tremble like the amorous steel. 
To lower good, and beauties less divine, 
Sometimes my erroneous needle does decline, 

But yet, so strong the sympathy, 

It turns, and points again to thee. 

I long to see this excellence 

Which at such distance strikes my sense. 
My impatient soul struggles to disengage 
Her wings from the confinement of her cage. 
Wouldst thou, great Love, this prisoner once set free, 
How would she hasten to be linked to thee ! 

She'd for no angels' conduct stay, 

But fly, and love on all the way. 


Dear Contemplation ! my divinest joy ! 
When I thy sacred mount ascend, 
What heavenly sweets my soul employ! 

Why can't I there my days for ever spend? 

When 1 have conquered thy steep heights with pain, 

What pity 'tis that I must down again ! 

And yet 1 must : my passions would rebel 

Should I too long continue here : 

No, here I must not think to dwell, 
But mind the duties of my proper sphere. 
So angels, though they heaven's glories know. 
Forget not to attend their charge below. 

The old hermits thought to overcome their im- 
pulses by retiring from the world : our Platonist has 


discovered for himself that the world of duty is the 
only sphere in which they can be combated. Never 
perhaps is a saint more in danger of giving way to 
impulse, let it be anger or what it may, than in the 
moment when he has just descended from this mount 
of contemplation. 

We find ourselves now in the zone of hymn- writing. 
From this period, that is, from towards the close of 
the seventeenth century, a large amount of the fer- 
vour of the country finds vent in hymns : they are 
innumerable. With them the scope of my book 
would not permit me to deal, even had I inclina- 
tion thitherward, and knowledge enough to undertake 
their history. But I am not therefore precluded from 
presenting any hymn whose literary excellence makes 
it worthy. 

It is with especial pleasure that I refer to a little 
book which was once a household treasure in a 
multitude of families, 1 the Spiritual Songs of John 
Mason, a clergyman in the county of Buckingham. 
The date of his birth does not appear to be known, 
but the first edition of these songs 2 was published in 
1683. Dr. Watts was very fond of them : would that 
he had written with similar modesty of style ! A few 

1 The first I ever saw of its hymns was on a broad-sheet of Christmas 
Carols, with coloured pictures, printed in Seven Dials. 

- They passed through twenty editions, not to mention one lately 
published {/>y Daniel Sedgwick, of Si, Sun-street^ Bishopsgate, a man 
7u/to, concerning hymns and their writers^ knows more than any other 
man I have me/), from which, carefully edited, I have gathered all 
my information, although I had known the book itself for many 


of them arc still popular in congregational singing. 
1 1 ere is the first in the book : 


How shall I sing that Majesty 

Which angels do admire? 
Let dust in dust and silence lie ; 

Sing, sing, ye heavenly choir. 
Thousands of thousands stand around 

Thy throne, O God most high ; 
Ten thousand times ten thousand sound 

Thy praise ; but who am I ? 

Thy brightness unto them appears, 

Whilst I thy footsteps trace ; 
A sound of God comes to my ears ; 

But they behold thy face. 
They sing because thou art their sun : 

Lord, send a beam on me ; 
For where heaven is but once begun, 

There hallelujahs be. 

Enlighten with faith's light my heart ; 

Enflame it with love's fire ; 
Then shall I sing and bear a part 

With that celestial choir. 
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold, 

With all my fire and light ; 
Vet when thou dost accept their gold, 

Lord, treasure up my mite. 

How great a being, Lord, is thine. 

Which doth all beings keep ! 
Thy knowledge is the only line 

To .sound so vast a deep. 
Thou art a sea without a shore, 

A sun without a sphere ; 
Thy time is now and evermore, 

Thy place is everywhere. 
s. i.. [V. T 


How good art thou, whose goodness is 

Our parent, nurse, and guide ! 
Whose streams do water Paradise, 

And all the earth beside ! 
Thine upper and thy nether springs 

Make both thy worlds to thrive ; 
Under thy warm and sheltering wings 

Thou keep'st two broods alive. 

Thy arm of might, most mighty king 

Both rocks and hearts doth break : 
My God, thou canst do everything 

But what should show thee weak. 
Thou canst not cross thyself, or be 

Less than thyself, or poor ; 
But whatsoever pleaseth thee, 

That canst thou do, and more. 

Who would not fear thy searching eye, 

Witness to all that's true ! 
Dark Hell, and deep Hypocrisy 

Lie plain before its view. 
Motions and thoughts before they grow, 

Thy knowledge doth espy ; 
What unborn ages are to do, 

Is done before thine eye. 

Thy wisdom which both makes and mends, 

W r e ever much admire : 
Creation all our wit transcends ; 

Redemption rises higher. 
Thy wisdom guides strayed sinners home, 

'Twill make the dead world rise, 
And bring those prisoners to their doom : 

Its paths are mysteries. 

Great is thy truth, and shall prevail 

To unbelievers' shame : 
Thy truth and years do never fail ; 

Thou ever art the same. 
Unbelief is a raging wave 

Dashing against a rock : 
If God doth not his Israel save, 

Then let Egyptians mock. 


Most pure and holy arc thine eyes, 

Most holy is thy name ; 
Thy saints, and laws, and penalties, 

Thy holiness proclaim. 
This is the devil's scourge and sting, 

This is the angels' song, 
Who holy, holy, holy sing, 

In heavenly Canaan's tongue. 

Mercy, that shining attribute, 

The sinner's hope and plea ! 
Huge hosts of sins in their pursuit, 

Are drowned in thy Red Sea. 
Mercy is God's memorial, 

And in all ages praised : 
My God, thine only Son did fall, 

That Mercy might be raised. 

Thy bright back-parts, O God of grace, 

I humbly here adore : 
Show me thy glory and thy face, 

That I may praise thee more. 
Since none can see thy face and live, 

For me to die is best : 
Through Jordan's streams who would not dive, 

To land at Canaan's rest? 

To these Songs of Praise is appended another series 
called Penitential Cries, by the Rev. Thomas Shep- 
herd, who, for a short time a clergyman in Bucking- 
hamshire, became the minister of the Congregational 
church at Northampton, afterwards under the care of 
Doddridge. Although he was an imitator of Mason, 
some of his hymns are admirable. The following I 
think one of the best : — 


Alas, my God, that we should be 

Such strangers to each ether ! 
O that as friends we might agree, 

And walk and talk together ! 
T 2 


Thou know'st my soul dues dearly love 

The place of thine abode ; 
No music drops so sweet a sound 

As these two words, My God. 

* * «• * 

May I taste that communion, Lord, 

Thy people have with thee ? 
Thy spirit daily talks with them, 

O let it talk with me ! 
Like Enoch, let me walk with God, 

And thus walk out my day, 
Attended with the heavenly guards, 

Upon the king's highway. 

When wilt thou come unto me, Lord ? 

O come, my Lord most dear ! 
Come near, come nearer, nearer still : 

I'm well when thou art near. 

* * * * 

When wilt thou come unto me, Lord? 

For, till thou dost appear, 
I count each moment for a day, 

Each minute for a year. 

* * * *- 

There's no such thing as pleasure here ; 

My Jesus is my all : 
As thou dost shine or disappear, 

My pleasures rise and fall. 
Come, spread thy savour on my frame — 

No sweetness is so sweet ; 
Till I get up to sing thy name 

Where all thy singers meet. 

In the writings of both we recognize a straight- 
forwardness of expression equal to that of Wither, 
and a quaint simplicity of thought and form like that 
of I lerrick ; while the very charm of some of the best 
lines is their spontaneity. The men have just enough 
mysticism to afford them homeliest figures for deepest 


I turn to the accomplished Joseph Addison. 

He was born in 1672. Mis religious poems are 
so well known, and are for the greater part so 
ordinary in everything but their simplicity of com- 
position, that I should hardly have cared to choose 
one, had it not been that we owe him much gratitude 
for what he did, in the reigns of Anne and George L, 
to purify the moral taste of the English people at a 
time when the influence of the clergy was not for 
elevation, and to teach the love of a higher literature 
when Milton was little known and less esteemed. 
Especially are we indebted to him for his modest 
and admirable criticism of the Paradise Lost in the 

Of those few poems to which I have referred, I 
choose the best known, because it is the best. It has 
to me a charm for which I can hardly account. 

Yet I imagine I see in it a sign of the poetic 
times: a flatness of spirit, arising from the evanish- 
ment of the mystical element, begins to result in a 
worship of power. Neither power nor wisdom, though 
infinite both, could constitute a God worthy of the 
worship of a human soul ; and the worship of such a 
God must sink to the level of that fancied divinity. 
Small wonder is it then that the lyric should now 
droop its wings and moult the feathers of its praise. 
I do not say that God's more glorious attributes are 
already forgotten, but that the tendency of the 
Christian lyric is now to laudation of power — and 
knowledge, a form of the same — as tJie essential of 
Godhead. This indicates no recalling of metaphysical 


questions, such as we have met in foregoing verse, 
but a decline towards system ; a rising passion — if 
anything so cold may be called a passion — for the 
reduction of all things to the forms of the understand- 
ing, a declension which has prepared the way for the 
present worship of science, and its refusal, if not denial, 
of all that cannot be proved in forms of the intellect. 

The hymn which has led to these remarks is still 
good, although, like the loveliness of the red and 
lowering west, it gives sign of a gray and cheerless 
dawn, under whose dreariness the child will first doubt 
if his father loves him, and next doubt if he has a 
father at all, and is not a mere foundling that Nature 
has lifted from her path. 

The spacious firmament on high, 
With all the blue etherial sky, 
And spangled heavens, a shining frame. 
Their great Original proclaim. 
The unwearied sun from day to day 
Does his Creator's power display ; 
And publishes to every land 
The work of mi almighty hand. 

Soon as the evening shades prevail, 
Tlie moon takes up the wondrous tale ; 

And nightly to the listening earth 

Repeats the story of her birth ; 

Whilst all the stars that round her burn, 

And all t!u- planets, in their turn, 

Confirm the tidings as they roll, 

And -pre. id the truth from pole to pole. 

Whal though in solemn silence all 
Move round the dark terrestrial ball ? 

What though no real voice nor sound 
Amidst their radiant orbs be found? 

RE I v;A. I TION IN NA Tl r RE. 279 

In reason's car they all rejoice, 
And utter forth a glorious voice, 
i' >r ever singing as they shine : 
11 The hand that made us is divine.' 

The very use of the words spangled and frame 
seems — to my fancy only, it may be — to indicate a 
tendency towards the unworthy and theatrical. Yet 
the second stanza is lovely beyond a doubt ; and the 
whole is most artistic, although after a tame fashion. 
Whether indeed the heavenly bodies teach what he 
says, or whether we should read divinity worthy of 
the name in them at all, without the human revela- 
tion which healed men, I doubt much. That divinity 
is there — Yes; that we could read it there without 
having seen the face of the Son of Man first, I think 
— No. I do not therefore dare imagine that no revela- 
tion dimly leading towards such result glimmered in 
the hearts of God's chosen amongst Jews and Gentiles 
before he came. What I say is, that power and 
order, although of God, and preparing the way for 
him, are not his revealers unto men. No doubt King 
David compares the perfection of God's law to the 
glory of the heavens, but he did not learn that per- 
fection from the heavens, but from the law itself, 
revealed in his own heart through the life-teaching of 
God. When he had learned it he saw that the 
heavens were like it. 

To unveil God, only manhood like our own will serve. 
And he has taken the form of man that he might 
reveal the manhood in him from awful eternity, 



BUT Addison's tameness is wonderfully lovely be- 
side the fervours of a man of honoured name, — 
Dr. Isaac Watts, born in 1674. The result must 
be dreadful where fervour will poetize without the 
aidful restraints of art and modesty. If any man 
would look upon absurdity in the garb of sobriety, 
let him search Dryden's Annus Mirabilis : Dr. 
Watts's Lyrics are as bad ; they are fantastic to 
utter folly. An admiration of " the incomparable 
Mr. Cowley" did the sense of them more injury than 
the imitation of his rough-cantering ode could do their 
rhythm. The sentimentalities of Roman Catholic 
writers towards our Lord and his mother, are not 
half so offensive as the courtier-like flatteries Dr. 
Watts offers to the Most High. To say nothing of 
the irreverence, the vulgarity is offensive He affords 
another instance amongst thousands how little the 
form in which feeling is expressed has to do with 
the feeling itself. In him the thought is true, the 
tonn of its utterance false ; the feeling lovely, the 
word, often to a degree, repulsive. The ugly web is 


crossed now and then by a fine line, and even damasked 
with an occasional good poem : I have found two, 
and only two, in the whole of his seventy-five Lyrics 
sacred to Devotion. His objectivity and boldness 
of thought, and his freedom of utterance, cause us 
ever and anon to lament that he had not the humility 
and faith of an artist as well as of a Christian. 

Almost all his symbols indicate a worship of power 
and of outward show. 

I give the best of the two good poems I have 
mentioned, and very good it is. 


" How meanly dwells the immortal mind ! 

How vile these bodies are ! 
Why was a clod of earth designed 

To enclose a heavenly star? 

" Weak cottage where our souls reside ! 

This flesh a tottering wall ! 
With frightful breaches gaping wide, 

The building bends to fall. 

" All round it storms of trouble blow, 
And waves of sorrow roll; 

Cold waves and winter storms beat through, 
And pain the tenant-soul. 

"Alas, how frail our state !" said I, 

And thus went mourning on ; 
Till sudden from the cleaving sky 

A gleam of glory shone. 

My soul all felt the glory come, 

And breathed her native air ; 
Then she remembered heaven her home. 

And she a prisoner here. 


Straight she began to change her key ; 

And, joyful in her pains, 
She sang the frailty of her clay 

In pleasurable strains. 

" How weak the prison is where I dwell ! 

Flesh but a tottering wall ! 
The breaches cheerfully foretell 

The house must shortly fall. 

" No more, my friends, shall I complain, 

Though all my heart-strings ache ; 
Welcome disease, and every pain 

That makes the cottage shake ! 

" Now let the tempest blow all round, 

Now swell the surges high, 
And beat this house of bondage down 

To let the stranger fly ! 

" I have a mansion built above 

By the eternal hand ; 
And should the earth's old basis move, 

My heavenly house must stand. 

"Yes, for 'tis there my Saviour reigns — 
I long to see the God — 

And hi.s immortal strength sustains 
Tiie courts that cost him blood. 

" Hark ! from on high my Saviour calls : 

1 come, my Lord, my Love ! 
Devotion breaks the prison-walls, 

And speeds my last remove." 

His psalms and hymns arc immeasurably better 
than bis lyrics. Dreadful some of them arc ; and 
I doubt if there is one from which we would not 
wish stanzas, line.-, and words absent. But some are 
very fine. The man who could write such verses as 
these ought not to have written as be lias written : — 


Had I a glance of thee, my God, 

Kingdoms and men would vanish soon ; 
Vanish as though I saw them not, 
As a dim candle dies at noon. 

Then they might fight and rage and rave : 
I should perceive the noise no more 

Than we can hear a shaking leaf 

While rattling thunders round us roar. 

Some of his hymns will be sung, I fancy, so long- 
as men praise God together ; for most heartily do 
I grant that of all hymns I know he has produced 
the best for public use ; but these bear a very small 
proportion indeed to the mass of his labour. We 
cannot help wishing that he had written about the 
twentieth part. We could not have too much of his 
best, such as this : 

lie earth with all her scenes withdrawn ; 

Let noise and vanity begone : 

In secret silence of the mind 

My heaven, and there my God, I find; 

but there is no occasion for the best to be so plentiful : 
a little of it will go a great way. And as our best 
moments are so few, how could any man write six 
hundred religious poems, and produce quality in 
proportion to quantity save in an inverse ratio : 

Dr. Thomas Parnell, the well-known poet, a clergy- 
man, born in Dublin in 1679, has written a few 
religious verses. The following have a certain touch 
of imagination and consequent grace, which distin- 
guishes them above the swampy level of the time. 



The beam-repelling mists arise, 
And evening spreads obscurer skies ; 
The twilight will the night forerun, 
And night itself be soon begun. 
Upon thy knees devoutly bow, 
And pray the Lord of glory now 
To fill thy breast, or deadly sin 
May cause a blinder night within. 
And whether pleasing vapours rise, 
Which gently dim the closing eyes, 
Which make the weary members blest 
With sweet refreshment in their rest ; 
Or whether spirits 1 in the brain 
Dispel their soft embrace again, 
And on my watchful bed I stay, 
Forsook by sleep, and waiting day ; 
Be God for ever in my view, 
And never he forsake me too; 
But still as day concludes in night, 
To break again with new-born light, 
His wondrous bounty let me find 
With still a more enlightened mind. 

Thou that hast thy palace far 

Above the moon and every star; 

Thou that sittest on a throne 

To which the night was never known, 

Regard my voice, and make me blest 

By kindly granting its request 

If thoughts on thee my soul employ, 

My darkness will afford me joy, 
Till thou shah call and I shall soar, 
And part with darkness evermore. 

Man)' long and elaborate religious poems 1 have 
not even mentioned, because I cannot favour-extracts, 

i The animal spirits of the old physiologists. 


especially in heroic couplets or blank verse. They 
would only make my book heavy, and destroy the 
song-idea. I must here pass by one of the best of 
such poems, The Complaint, or Night Thoughts of 
Dr. Young ; nor is there anything else of his I care 
to quote. 

I must give just one poem of Pope, born in 1688, 
the year of the Revolution. The flamboyant style of 
his Messiah is to me detestable : nothing can be more 
unlike the simplicity of Christianity. All such, equally 
with those by whatever hand that would be religious 
by being miserable, I reject at once, along with all 
that are merely commonplace religious exercises. But 
this at least is very unlike the rest of Pope's composi- 
tions : it is as simple in utterance as it is large in 
scope and practical in bearing. The name Jove may 
be unpleasant to some ears : it is to mine — not because 
it is the name given to their deity by men who had 
had little outward revelation, but because of the asso- 
ciations which the wanton poets, not the good philo- 
sophers, have gathered about it. Here let it stand, as 
Pope meant it, for one of the names of the Unknown 


Father of all ! in every age, 

In every clime adored, 
By saint, by savage, and by sage, 

Jehovah, Jove, or Lord ! 

Thou great First Cause, least understood ! 
Who all my sense confined 

To know but this, that thou art good, 
And that myself am blind 


Yet gave me, in this dark estate, 

To see the good from ill ; 
And, binding Nature fast in Fate, 

Left free the human will : 

What Conscience dictates to be done, 

Or warns me not to do — 
This, teach me more than hell to slum, 

That, more than heaven pursue. 

What blessings thy free bounty gives, 

Let me not cast away ; 
For God is paid when man receives : 

To enjoy is to obey. 

Yet not to earth's contracted span 
Thy goodness let me bound, 

Or think thee Lord alone of man, 
When thousand worlds are round. 

Let not this weak, unknowing hand 
Presume thy bolts to throw, 

And deal damnation round the land 
On each I judge thy foe. 

If I am right, thy grace impart 

Still in the right to stay ; 
If I am wrong, O teach my heart 

To find that better way. 

Sa\e me alike from foolish pride 
Or impious discontent, 

At aught thy wisdom has denied, 
Or aught thy goodness lent. 

Teach me to feel another's wee. 
To hide the fault I see : 

That mercy I to others show, 
That mercy show to me. 

Mean though I am not wholly so, 

Since quickened by thy breath: — 
() lead me whercsoe'er I go, 

Through this day's life or death. 


This day, be bread and peace my lot : 

All else beneath the sun 
Thou know'st if best bestowed or not, 

And let thy will be done. 

To thee, whose temple is all space, 

Whose altar, earth, sea, skies, 
One chorus let all being raise ! 

All Nature's incense rise ! 

ad now we come upon a strange little well in the 
desert. Few flowers indeed shine upon its brink, and 
it flows with a somewhat unmusical ripple : it is a 
well of the water of life notwithstanding, for its song- 
tells of the love and truth which are the grand power 
of God. 

John Byrom, born in [Manchester in the year 1691, 
a man whose strength of thought and perception of 
truth greatly surpassed his poetic gifts, yet delighted 
so entirely in the poetic form that he wrote much and 
chiefly in it. After leaving Cambridge, he gained his 
livelihood for some time by teaching a shorthand of 
his own invention, but was so distinguished as a man 
of learning generally that he was chosen an F.R.S. in 
1723. Coming under the influence, probably through 
William Law, of the writings of Jacob Bohme, the 
marvellous shoemaker of Gorlitz in Silesia, who lived 
in the time of our Shakspere, and heartily adopting 
many of his views, he has left us a number of 
religious poems, which are seldom so sweet in music 
as they are profound in the metaphysics of religion. 
Here we have yet again a mystical thread running 
radiant athwart both warp and woof of our poetic web : 
the mystical thinker will ever be found the reviver of 


religious poetry ; and although some of the seed had 

come from afar both in time and space, Byrom's verse 

is of indigenous growth. Much of the thought of the 

present day will be found in his verses. Here is a 

specimen of his metrical argumentation. It is taken 

from a series of Meditations for every Day in Passion 



Christ satisfictJi the justice of God by fulfilling; all righteousness. 
Justice demanrieth satisfaction — yes ; 
And ought to have it where injustice is : 
But there is none in God — it cannot mean 
] )emand of justice where it has full reign : 
To dwell in man it rightfully demands, 
Such as he came from his Creator's hands. 

Man had departed from a righteous state, 
Which he at first must have, if God create : 
'Tis therefore called God's righteousness, and must 
Be satisfied by man's becoming just ; 
Must exercise good vengeance upon men, 
Till it regain its rights in them again. 

This was the justice for which Christ became 

A man to satisfy its righteous claim ; 
Became Redeemer of the human race, 
That sin in them to justice might give place : 
To satisfy a just and righteous will, 

[s neither more nor less than to fulfil. 

■y- * * * 

I fere are two stanzas of one of more mystical 
reflection : 


What though no objects strike upon the sight ! 
Thy sacred presence is an inward light. 
What though no souml> shall penetrate the car ! 
To Listening thought the voice of truth is clear. 
Sincere devotion needs no outward shrine ; 
The centre of an humble soul is thine. 


There may I worship ! and there mayst thou place 

Thy seat of mercy, and thy throne of grace ! 

Yea, fix, if Christ my advocate appear, 

The dread tribunal of thy justice there ! 

Let each vain thought, let each impure desire 

Meet in thy wrath with a consuming fire. 

And here are two of more lyrical favour. 


Stones towards the earth descend ; 

Rivers to the ocean roll ; 
Every motion has some end : 

What is thine, beloved soul ? 

" Mine is, where my Saviour is; 

There with him I hope to dwell : 
Jesu is the central bliss ; 

Love the force that doth impel." 

Truly thou hast answered right : 
Now may heaven's attractive grace 

Towards the source of thy delight 
Speed along thy quickening pace ! 

" Thank thee for thy generous care : 
Heaven, that did the wish inspire, 

Through thy instrumental prayer, 
Plumes the wings of my desire. 

11 Now, methinks, aloft I fly ; 

Now with angels bear a part : 
Glory be to God on high ! 

Peace to every Christian heart !" 


Cheer up, desponding soul ; 

Thy longing pleased I see : 
'Tis part of that great whole 

Wherewith I longed for thee. 

S. L. IV. U 


Wherewith I longed for thee, 

And left my Father's throne, 
From death to set thee free, 

To claim thee for my own. 

To claim thee for my own, 

I suffered on the cross : ' 
O ! were my love but known, 

No soul could fear its loss. 

No soul could fear its loss, 

But, filled with love divine, 
Would die on its own cross, 

And rise for ever mine. 

Surely there is poetry as well as truth in this. But, 
certainly in general, his thought is far in excess of 
his poetry. 

Here are a few verses which I shall once more 


With peaceful mind thy race of duty run 

God nothing does, or suffers to be done, 

But what thou wouldst thyself, if thou couldst see 

Through all events of things as well as he. 

Think, and be careful what thou art within, 
For there is sin in the desire of sin : 
Think and be thankful, in a different case, 
For there is grace in the desire of grace. 

An heated fancy or imagination 
May be mistaken for an inspiration; 
True; but is this conclusion fair to make 
That inspiration must be all mistake? 
A pebble-Stone is not a diamond : true ; 
But must a diamond be a pebble too? 


To own a God who does not speak to men, 
Is first to own, and then disown again ; 
Of all idolatry the total sum 
Is having gods that are both deaf and dumb. 

What is more tender than a mother's love 

To the sweet infant fondling in her arms ? 
What arguments need her compassion move 
To hear its cries, and help it in its harms ? 
Now, if the tenderest mother were possessed 
Of all the love within her single breast 
Of all the mothers since the world began, 
'Tis nothing to the love of God to man. 

Faith, Hope, and Love were questioned what they thought 

Of future glory which Religion taught : 

Now Faith believed it firmly to be true, 

And Hope expected so to find it too : 

Love answered, smiling with a conscious glow, 

"Believe? Expect? I knaiu it to be so." 

U 2 



In the poems of James Thomson, we find two 
hymns to the God of Creation — one in blank verse, 
the other in stanzas. They are of the kind which 
from him we should look for. The one in blank verse, 
which is as an epilogue to his great poem, The 
Seasons, I prefer. 

We owe much to Thomson. Born (in Scotland) 
in the year 1700, he is the leading priest in a solemn 
procession to find God— not in the laws by which he 
has ordered his creation, but in the beauty which is the 
outcome of those laws. I do not say there is much 
of the relation of man to nature in his writing ; but 
thitherward it tends. He is true about the outsides 
of God ; and in Thomson we begin to feel that the 
revelation of God as meaning and therefore being the 
loveliness of nature, is about to be recognized. I do 
not say — to change my simile — that he is the first 
visible root in our literature whence we can follow the 
outburst of the flowers and foliage of our delight in 
nature: I could show a hundred fibres leading from 
the depths of our old literature up to the great root. 


Nor is it surprising that, with his age about him, he 
too should be found tending to magnify, not God's 
Word, but his works, above all his name : we have 
beauty for loveliness ; beneficence for tenderness. I 
have wondered whether one great part of Napoleon's 
mission was not to wake people from this idolatry of 
the power of God to the adoration of his love. 

The Hymn holds a kind of middle place between 
the Morning Hymn in the 5th Book of the Paradise 
Lost and the Hymn in the Vale of ChamounL It 
would be interesting and instructive to compare the 
three ; but we have not time. Thomson has been 
influenced by Milton, and Coleridge by both. We 
have delight in Milton; art in Thomson; heart, in- 
cluding both, in Coleridge. 


These, as they change, Almighty Father, these 

Are but the varied God. The rolling year 

Is full of thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring 

Thy beauty walks, thy tenderness and love. 

Wide flush the fields ; the softening air is balm ; 

Echo the mountains round ; the forest smiles ; 

And every sense and every heart is joy. 

Then comes thy glory in the Summer months. 
With light and heat refulgent. Then thy sun 
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year 
And oft thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks, 
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve, 
By brooks and groves, in hollow-whispering gales. 1 

1 In the following five lines I have adopted the reading of the first 
edition, which, although a little florid, I prefer to the] scanty two lines 
of the later. 


A yellow-floating pomp, thy bounty shines 

In Autumn unconfined. Thrown from thy lap, 

Profuse o'er nature, falls the lucid shower 

Of beamy fruits ; and, in a radiant stream, 

Into the stores of sterile Winter pours. 

In winter awful thou ! with clouds and storms 

Around thee thrown — tempest o'er tempest rolled. 

Majestic darkness ! on the whirlwind's wing 

Riding sublime, thou bidst the world adore, 1 

And humblest nature with thy northern blast. 

Mysterious round ! what skill, what force divine 
Deep felt, in these appear ! a simple train, 
Yet so delightful mixed, with such kind art, 
Such beauty and beneficence combined ! 
Shade unperceived so softening into shade ! 
And all so forming an harmonious whole, 
That, as they still succeed, they ravish still. 
* * * * 

Nature attend ! Join, every living soul, 
Beneath the spacious temple of the sky — 
In adoration join ; and, ardent, raise 
One general song ! To him, ye vocal gales, 
Breathe soft, whose spirit in your freshness breathes ; 
Oh ! talk of him in solitary glooms, 
Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely waving pine 
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe ; 
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar, 
Who shake the astonished world, lift high to heaven 
The impetuous song, and say from whom you rage. 
His praise, ye brooks, attune, — ye trembling rills, 
And let me catch it as I muse along. 
Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound ; 
>fter floods, that lead the humid maze 
Along the vale; and thou, majestic main, 

ret world of wonders in thy>elf, 
Sound his Stupendous praise, whose greater voice 
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall. 

1 False in feeling, nor like God at all, although a ready pagan repre- 
sentation of him. There is much of the pagan left in many Christians 
— poets too. 


Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers, 
In mingled clouds to him whose sun exalts, 
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints. 
Ye forests, bend, ye harvests, wave to him; 
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart, 
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon. 
» * ♦ « 

Bleat out afresh, ye hills ! ye mossy rocks, 
Retain the sound ; the broad responsive low, 
Ye valleys raise ; for the great Shepherd reign>. 
And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come. 

* * * * 

Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles, 
At once the head, the heart, and tongue of all, 
Crown the great hymn ! in swarming cities vast, 
Assembled men, to the deep organ join 
The long-resounding voice, oft breaking clear, 
At solemn pauses, through the swelling base ; 
And, as each mingling flame increases each, 
In one united ardour rise to heaven. 

* * ■* * 

Should fate command me to the farthest verge 
Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes, 
Rivers unknown to song, where first the sun 
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam 
Flames on the Atlantic isles, 'tis nought to me, 
Since God is ever present, ever felt, 
In the void waste as in the city full; 
And where he vital breathes there must be joy. 

The worship of intellectual power in laws and 
inventions is the main delight of the song ; not the 
living presence of creative love, which never sings its 
own praises, but spends itself in giving. Still, although 
there has passed away a glory from the world of 
song, although the fervour of childlike worship has 
vanished for a season, there are signs in these verses 


of a new dawn of devotion. Even the exclusive and 
therefore blind worship of science will, when it has 
turned the coil of the ascending spiral, result in a new 
song to " him that made heaven and earth and the 
sea and the fountains of waters.'' But first, for a long 
time, the worship of power will go on. There is one 
sonnet by Kirke White, eighty-five years younger 
than Thomson, which is quite pagan in its mode of 
glorifying the power of the Deity. 

But about the same time when Thomson's Seasons 
was published, which was in 1730, the third year of 
George II., that life which had burned on in the 
hidden corners of the church in spite of the world- 
liness and sensuality of its rulers, began to show a 
flame destined to enlarge and spread until it should 
have lighted up the mass with an outburst of Chris- 
tian faith and hope. I refer to the movement called 
Methodism, in the midst of which, at an early stage of 
its history, arose the directing energies of John Wesley, 
a man sent of God to deepen at once and purify its 
motive influences. What he and his friends taught, 
would, I presume, in its essence, amount mainly to 
this : that acquiescence in the doctrines of the church 
is no fulfilment of duty — or anything, indeed, short of 
an obedient recognition of personal relation to God, 
who has sent every man the message of present 
salvation in his Son. A new life began to bud 
and blossom from the dry stem of the church. 
The spirit moved upon the waters of feeling, and 
the new undulation broke on the shores of thought 
in an outburst of new song. For while John Wesley 


roused the hearts of the people to sing, his brother 
Charles put songs in their mouths. 

I do not say that many of these songs possess 
much literary merit, but many of them are real lyrics : 
they have that essential element, song, in them. The 
following, however, is a very fine poem. That certain 
expressions in it may not seem offensive, it is neces- 
sary to keep the allegory of Jacob and the Angel in 
full view — even better in view, perhaps, than the 
writer does himself. 


Come, O thou traveller unknown, 
Whom still I hold, but cannot see ! 

My company before is gone, 
And I am left alone with thee ! 

With thee all night I mean to stay, 

And wrestle till the break of day ! 

I need not tell thee who I am, 

My misery or sin declare ; 
Thyself hast called me by my name : 

Look on my hands, and read it there ! 
But who, I ask thee, who art thou ? 
Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 

In vain thou strugglest to get free : 

I never will unloose my hold. 
Art thou the man that died for me ? 

The secret of thy love unfold. 
Wrestling, I will not let thee go 
Till I thy name, thy nature know. 
* * * 

What though my sinking flesh complain, 
And murmur to contend so long ! 


I rise superior to my pain : 

When I am weak, then I am strong ; 
And when my all of strength shall fail, 
I shall with the God-man prevail. 

My strength is gone ; my nature dies ; 

I sink beneath thy weighty hand : 
Faint to revive, and fall to rise ; 

I fall, and yet by faith I stand — 
1 stand, and will not let thee go 
Till I thy name, thy nature know. 

Yield to me now, for I am weak, 
But confident in self-despair ; 

Speak to my heart, in blessings speak ; 
Be conquered by my instant 1 prayer. 

Speak, or thou never hence shalt move, 

And tell me if thy name is Love. 

'Tis Love ! 'tis Love ! Thou diedst for me ! 

I hear thy whisper in my heart ! 
The morning breaks ; the shadows flee : 

Pure universal Love thou art ! 
To me, to all, thy bowels move : 
Thy nature and thy name is Love ! 

My prayer hath power with God ; the grace 
Unspeakable I now receive ; 

Through faitli I see thee face to face — 
1 see thee face to face, and live: 

In vain I have not wept and strove ; 

Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

I know thee, Saviour — who thou art — 
Jesus, the feeble sinner's friend ! 

Nor wilt thou with the [light depart, 
I hit stay and love me to the end ! 

Thy mercies never shall remove: 

Thy nature and thy name is Love ! 
* * * 

Contented now, upon my thigh 
I halt till life's short journey end'; 

1 Insisting— persistent. 


All helplessness, all weakness, I 

On thee alone for strength depend ; 
Nor have I power from thee to move : 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

Lame as I am, I take the prey ; 

Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o'ercome ; 
I leap for joy, pursue my way, 

And as a bounding hart fly home ; 
Through all eternity to prove 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

It seems to me that the art with which his very 
difficult end in the management of the allegory is 
reached, is admirable. I have omitted three stanzas. 

I cannot give much from William Cowper. His 
poems — graceful always, and often devout even 
when playful — have few amongst them that are ex- 
pressly religious, while the best of his hymns are 
known to every reader of such. Born in 173 1, he 
was greatly influenced by the narrow theology that 
prevailed in his circle ; and most of his hymns are 
marred by the exclusiveness which belonged to the 
system and not to the man. There is little of it in 
the following : — 

Far from the world, O Lord, I flee, 

From strife and tumult far; 
From scenes where Satan wages still 

1 1 is most successful war. 

The calm retreat, the silent shade, 

With prayer and praise agree, 
And seem by thy sweet bounty made 

For those who follow thee. 

There if thy spirit touch the soul, 

And grace her mean abode, 
Oh with what peace, and joy, and love, 

She communes with her God ! 


There, like the nightingale, she pours 

Her solitary lays, 
Nor asks a witness of her song, 

Nor thirsts for human praise. 

Author and guardian of my life, 

Sweet source of light divine, 
And — all harmonious names in one — 

My Saviour, thou art mine ! 

What thanks I owe thee, and what love — 

A boundless, endless store — 
Shall echo through the realms above 

When time shall be no more. 

Sad as was Cowper's history, with the vapours of a 
low insanity, if not always filling his garden, yet ever 
brooding on the hill-tops of his horizon, he was, through 
his faith in God, however darkened by the introver- 
sions of a neat, poverty-stricken theology, yet able to 
lead his life to the end. It is delightful to discover 
that, when science, which is the anatomy of nature, 
had poisoned the theology of the country, in creat- 
ing a demand for clean-cut theory in infinite affairs, 
the loveliness and truth of the countenance of living 
nature could calm the mind which this theology had 
irritated to the very borders of madness, and give a 
peace and hope which the man was altogether right 
in attributing to the Spirit of God. How many have 
been thus comforted, who knew not, like Wordsworth, 
the immediate channel of their comfort ; or even, 
with Cowper, recognized its source ! God gives while 
men sleep. 



WILLIAM BLAKE, the painter of many strange and 
fantastic but often powerful — sometimes very beau- 
tiful pictures — wrote poems of an equally remarkable 
kind. Some of them are as lovely as they are care- 
less, while many present a curious contrast in the 
apparent incoherence of the simplest language. He 
was born in 1757, towards the close of the reign of 
George II. Possibly if he had been sent to an age 
more capable of understanding him, his genius would 
not have been tempted to utter itself with such a wild- 
ness as appears to indicate hopeless indifference to 
being understood. We cannot tell sometimes whether 
to attribute the bewilderment the poems cause in us 
to a mysticism run wild, or to regard it as the reflex 
of madness in the writer. Here is a lyrical gem, 
however, although not cut with mathematical pre- 


To find the western path, 

Right through the gates of wrath 

I urge my way ; 
Sweet morning leads me on : 
With soft repentant moan, 

I see the break of day. 


The war of swords and spears, 
Melted by dewy tears, 

Exhales on high ; 
The sun is freed from fears, 
And with soft grateful tears, 

Ascends the sky. 

The following is full of truth most quaintly ex- 
pressed, with a homeliness of phrase quite delicious. 
It is one of the Songs of Innocence, published, as we 
learn from Gilchrist's Life of Blake, in the year 1789. 
They were engraved on copper with illustrations by 
Blake, and printed and bound by his wife. When 
we consider them in respect of the time when they 
were produced, we find them marvellous for their 
originality and simplicity. 

Can I see another's woe, 
And not be in sorrow too ? 
Can I see another's grief, 
And not seek for kind relief? 
Can 1 see a falling tear, 
And not feci my sorrow's share? 
Can a father see li is child 
Weep, nor he with sorrow filled? 
Can a mother sit and hear 
An infant groan, an infant fear? 
No, no ; never can it he ! 
Never, never can it he ! 
And can lie, who smiles on all, 
Hear the wren, with sorrows small — 
Hear the small bird's grief and care, 
I [ear the woes that infants hear, 
And not sit beside the nest, 
Pouring pity in their breast ? 

And not sit the cradle near, 

Weeping tear on infant's tear? 


And not sit both night and day. 
Wiping all our tears away? 
Ob, no 1 never can it be ! 

Never, never can it be ! 

He doth give his joy to all'; 
He becomes an infant small ; 
He becomes a man of woe ; 
lie doth feel the sorrow too. 

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh, 
And thy Maker is not by ; 
Think not thou canst weep a tear, 
And thy Maker is not near. 

Oh ! he gives to us his joy, 
That our grief he may destroy : 
Till our grief is fled and gone, 
He doth sit by us and moan. 

There is our mystic yet again leading the way. 

A supreme regard for science, and the worship of 
power, go hand in hand : that knowledge is power 
has been esteemed the grandest incitement to stud}'. 
Yet the antidote to the disproportionate cultivation 
of science, is simply power in its crude form — breaking 
out, that is, as brute force. When science, isolated 
and glorified, has produced a contempt, not only for 
vulgar errors, but for the truths which are incapable 
of scientific proof, then, as we see in the French Revo- 
lution, the wild beast in man breaks from its den, and 
chaos returns. But all the noblest minds in Europe 
looked for grand things in the aurora of this uprising 
of the people. To the terrible disappointment that 
followed, we are indebted for the training of Words- 
worth to the priesthood of nature's temple. So was he 
possessed with the hope of a coming deliverance for 


the nations, that he spent many months in France 
during the Revolution. At length he was forced to 
seek safety at home. Dejected even to hopelessness 
for a time, he believed in nothing. How could there 
be a God that ruled in the earth when such a rising 
sun of promise was permitted to set in such a sea ! 
But for man to worship himself is a far more terrible 
thing than that blood should flow like water : the 
righteous plague of God allowed things to go as they 
would for a time. But the power of God came upon 
Wordsworth — I cannot say as it had never come 
before, but with an added insight which made him 
recognize in the fresh gift all that he had known and 
felt of such in the past. To him, as to Cowper, the 
benignities of nature restored peace and calmness 
and hope — sufficient to enable him to look back and 
gather wisdom. He was first troubled, then quieted, 
and then taught. Such presence of the Father has 
been an infinitely more active power in the redemp- 
tion of men than men have yet become capable of 
perceiving. The divine expressions of Nature, that 
is, the face of the Father therein visible, began to heal 
the plague which the worship of knowledge had bred. 
And the power of her teaching grew from comfort 
to prayer, as will be seen in the poem I shall give. 
Higher than all that Nature can do in the way of di- 
rect lessoning, is the production of such holy moods 
as result in hope, conscience of duty, and supplication. 
Those who have never felt it have to be told there 
is in her such a power — yielding to which, the meek 
inherit the earth. 



Composed upon an evening of extraordinary splendour and beauty. 

Had this effulgence disappeared 

With Hying haste, I might have sent 

Among the speechless clouds a look 

Of blank astonishment ; 

But 'tis endued with power to stay, 

And sanctify one closing day, 

That frail Mortality may see — 

What is? — ah no, but what can be! 

Time was when field and watery cove 

With modulated echoes rang, 

While choirs of fervent angels sang 

Their vespers in the grove; 

Or, crowning, star-like, each some sovereign height, 

Warbled, for heaven above and earth below, 

Strains suitable to both. — Such holy rite, 

Methinks, if audibly repeated now 

From hill or valley could not move 

Sublimer transport, purer love, 

Than doth this silent spectacle — the gleam— 

The shadow — and the peace supreme! 

No sound is uttered, — but a deep 
And solemn harmony pervades 
The hollow vale from steep to steep, 
And penetrates the glades. 
Far distant images draw nigh, 
Called forth by wondrous potency 
Of beamy radiance, that imbues 
Whate'er it strikes with gem-like hues 
In vision exquisitely clear, 
Herds range along the mountain side, 
And glistening antlers are descried, 
And gilded flocks appear. 


Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve ! 
But long as godlike wish or hope divine 
Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe 
That this magnificence is wholly thine ! 
From worlds nor quickened by the sun 
A portion of the gift is won ; 
An intermingling of heaven's pomp is spread 
On ground which British shepherds tread ! 

And if there be whom broken ties 

Afflict, or injuries assail, 

Yon hazy ridges to their eyes 

Present a glorious scale 1 

Climbing suffused with sunny air, 

To stop — no record hath told where ; 

And tempting Fancy to ascend, 

And with immortal spirits blend ! 

— Wings at my shoulders seem to play ! 

But, rooted here, I stand and gaze 

On those bright steps that heavenward raise 

Their practicable way. 

Come forth, ye drooping old men, look abroad, 

And see to what fair countries ye are bound! 

And if some traveller, weary of his road, 

I lath slept since noontide on the grassy ground, 

Ye genii, to his covert speed, 

And wake him with such gentle heed 

As may attune his soul to meet the dower 

Bestowed on this transcendent hour. 


Such hues from their celestial urn 
WCre wont to stream before mine eye 
Where'er it wandered in the morn 
Of blissful infaney. 
This glimpse of glory, why renewed? 
Nay, ratlin- -peak with gratitude; 

1 Great cloudy ridges, one rising above the other, like a grand stair 
up to the heavens. See Wordswortk *S note* 


For, if a vestige of those gleams 

Survived, 'twas only in my dreams. 

Dread Power! whom peace and calmness serve 

No less than nature's threatening voice, 

If aught unworthy be my choice, 

From THEE if I would swerve; 

Oh, let thy grace remind me of the light 

Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored ; 

Which, at this moment, on my waking sight 

Appears to shine, by miracle restored : 

My soul, though yet confined to earth, 

Rejoices in a second birth ! 

— 'Tis past ; the visionary splendour fades ; 

And night approaches with her shades. 

Although I have mentioned Wordsworth before 
Coleridge because he was two years older, yet Cole- 
ridge had much to do with the opening of Words- 
worth's eyes to such visions ; as, indeed, more than 
any man in our times, he has opened the eyes of the 
English people to see wonderful things. There is 
little of a directly religious kind in his poetry ; yet 
we find in him what we miss in Wordsworth, an 
inclined plane from the revelation in nature to the 
culminating revelation in the Son of Man. Some- 
how, I say, perhaps because we find it in his prose, we 
feel more of this in Coleridge's verse. 

Coleridge is a sage, and Wordsworth is a seer ; yet 
when the sage sees, that is, when, like the son of Beor, 
he falls into a trance having his eyes open, or, when 
feeling and sight are one and philosophy is in abey- 
ance, the ecstasy is even loftier in Coleridge than in 
Wordsworth. In their highest moods they seem 
almost to change places — Wordsworth to become 
sage, and Coleridge seer. Perhaps the grandest hymn 

X 2 


of praise which man, the mouth-piece of Nature, utters 
for her, is the hymn of Mont Blanc. 

Before sunrise, in the Vale of Ckamouni. 

Hast thou a charm to stay the morning star 
In his steep course — so long he seems to pause 
On thy bald awful head, O sovran Blanc ? 
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base 
Rave ceaselessly ; but thou, most awful Form ! 
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines, 
How silently ! Around thee and above 
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black, 
An ebon mass : methinks thou piercest it 
As with a wedge ! But when I look again, 
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine, 
Thy habitation from eternity ! 

dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee 
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense, 

Didst vanish from my thought : entranced in prayer 

1 worshipped the Invisible alone. 

Vet, like some sweet beguiling melody, 
So sweet, we know not we are Listening to it, 
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my thought, 
Yea, with my life and life's own secret joy ; 
Till the dilating soul, enwrapt, transfused, 
Into the mighty vision passing- there 
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven! 

Awake, my soul! Not only passive praise 
Thou owest ! Not alone- these swelling tears, 
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake, 
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake! 
Green vales and icy clitTs, all join my hymn. 

Thou first and chief, sole sovran 1 of the Yale ! 
() struggling with the darkness ail the night, 

The mountain. 


And visited all night by troops of stars, 1 
( >r when they climb the sky or when they sink ! 
Companion of the morning-star at dawn, 
Thyself earth's rosy star, and of the dawn 2 
Co-herald! wake, () wake, and utter pr 
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in earth? 
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light? 
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams? 

And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad ! 
Who called you forth from night and utter death, 
From dark and icy caverns called you forth, s 
Down those precipitous, black, jagged rocks, 
For ever shattered, and the same for ever? 
Who gave you your invulnerable life, 
Your strength, your speed, your fury, and your joy, 
Unceasing thunder, and eternal foam? 
And who commanded — and the silence came — 
Here let the billows stiffen, and have rest? 4 

Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain's brow 
Adown enormous ravines slope amain — 
Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice, 
And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!— 
Motionless torrents ! silent cataracts ! 
Who made you glorious as the gates of heaven 
Beneath the keen full moon ? Who bade the sun 
Clothe you with rainbows? Who, with living flow* 
Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet? — 
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations. 
Answer! and let the ice-plains eel 

. ye meadow-streams, with gladsome voice ! 
. with your soft and soul-like sounds ! 
And the\- too have a voice, yon pili - 
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, I 

■ These two lines are just the symbol for the life i ithor. 

Fr< ' i ,; rosi '-light on the snow of its peak. 
■" They all flow from under the glaciers, fed by their constant melting 
4 Turning for contrast to the glacier-, which he a; 



Ye living flowers that skirt the eternal frost ! 
Ye wild goats sporting round the eagle's nest! 
Ye eagles, playmates of the mountain-storm ! 
Ye lightnings, the dread arrows of the clouds ! 
Ye signs and wonders of the element ! 
Utter forth God, and fill the hills with praise. 

Thou too, hoar Mount ! with thy sky-pointing peaks. 
Oft from whose 1 feet the avalanche, unheard, 
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene 
Into the depth of clouds that veil thy breast — 
Thou too again, stupendous Mountain! thou 
That, as I raise my head, awhile bowed low 
In adoration — upward from thy base 
Slow-travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears — 
Solemnly seemest, like a vapoury cloud, 
To rise before me ! rise, O ever rise ; 
Rise like a cloud of incense from the earth ! 
Thou kingly spirit throned among the hills ! 
Thou dread ambassador from earth to heaven ! 
Great hierarch ! tell thou the silent sky, 
And tell the stars, and tell yon rising sun, 
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises God. 

Here is one little poem I think most valuable, both 
from its fulness of meaning, and the form, as clear as 
condensed, in which that is embodied. 


Which died before baptism. 

" Be rather than be called a child of God, 
Death whispered. With assenting nod. 
Its head upon its mother's breast 

The baby bowed without demur — 
Of the kingdom of the blest 

Possessor, not inheritor. 

1 .Antecedent, peaks. 


Next the father Let me place the gifted son, Hartley 
Coleridge. He was born in 1796, and died in 1849. 
Strange, wayward, and in one respect faulty, as his 
life was, his poetry — strange, and exceedingly way- 
ward too — is often very lovely. The following sonnet 
is all I can find room for: — 


She sat and wept beside his feet. The weight 

Of sin oppressed her heart; for all the blame, 

And the poor malice of the worldly shame, 

To her was past, extinct, and out of date ; 

Only the sin remained — the leprous state. 

She would be melted by the heat of love, 

By fires far fiercer than are blown to prove 

And purge the silver ore adulterate. 

She sat and wept, and with her untressed hair 

Still wiped the feet she was so blest to touch ; 

And he wiped off the soiling of despair 

From her sweet soul, because she loved so much. 

I am a sinner, full of doubts and fears : 

Make me a humble thing of love and tears. 



The late Dean Milman, born in 1791, best known 
by his very valuable labours in history, may be taken 
as representing a class of writers in whom the poetic 
fire is ever on the point, and only on the point, of 
breaking into a flame. His composition is admir- 
able — refined, scholarly, sometimes rich and even 
gorgeous in expression — yet lacking that radiance 
of the unutterable to which the loftiest words owe 
their grandest power. Perhaps the best representa- 
tive of his style is the hymn on the Incarnation, in 
his dramatic poem, The Fall of Jerusalem. But as an 
extract it is tolerably known. I prefer giving one 
from his few Hymns for Church Service. 


When God came down from heaven —the living God 
What signs and wonders marked Ids stately way? 

Brake out the winds in music where 1k v trod? 
Shone o'er the heavens a brighter, softer day? 

The dumb began to speak, the blind to see, 
And the lame leaped, and pain and paleness fled; 

The mourner's sunken eye grew bright with glee, 
And from the tomb awoke the wondering dead. 


When God went back to heaven— the living God — 

Rode he the heavens upon a fiery car? 
Waved seraph-wings along I 

Stood still to wonder each bright wandering 

Upon the cross he hung, and bowed his 1. 

And prayed for them that smote, and them that curst ; 
And, drop by drop, his slow life-blood 

And his last hour of suffering was his w 

The Christian Year of the Rev. John Keble (born 
in 1800) is perhaps better known in England than 
any other work of similar church character. I must 
confess I have never been able to enter into the en- 
thusiasm of its admirers. Excellent, both in regard 
of their literary and religious merits, true in feeling 
and thorough in finish, the poems always remind 
me of Berlin work in iron — hard and delicate. Here 
is a portion of one of the best of them. 


Ye hermits blest, ye holy maids, 
The nearest heaven on earth, 
Who talk with Clod in shadowy gl 
from rude care and mirth; 
To \\ I 

The secret lore of rural thii 
The : 
The '■' that haunt the twilight vale: 

Say. when in pity ye have { 

On the wreath'd sm< 
That o'er some town, like mist upraised, 

1 Eung hiding sun and 
Then as ye turned your weary eye 
To the green earth and open sky, 
Were ye not fain to doubt how Faith could dwell 
Amid that dreary glare, in this world' 


But Love's a flower that will not die 

For lack of leafy screen, 
And Christian Hope can cheer the eye 

That ne'er saw vernal green : 
Then be ye sure that Love can bless 
Even in this crowded loneliness, 
Where ever-moving myriads seem to say, 
( io — thou art nought to us, nor we to thee — away ! 

There are in this loud stunning tide 

Of human care and crime, 
With whom the melodies abide 

Of the everlasting chime ; 
Who carry music in their heart 
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart. 
Plying their daily task with busier feet, 
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat. 

There are here some indications of that strong re- 
action of the present century towards ancient forms 
of church life. This reaction seems to me a further 
consequence of that admiration of power of which I 
have spoken. For, finding the progress of discovery 
in the laws of nature constantly bring an assurance 
most satisfactory to the intellect, men began to de- 
mand a similar assurance in other matters ; and what- 
ever department of human thought could not be 
subjected to experiment or did not admit of logical 
proof began to be regarded with suspicion. The 
highest realms of human thought — where indeed 
only grand conviction, and that the result not of 
research, but of obedience to the voice within, can 
be had — came to be by such regarded as regions 
where, no scientific assurance being procurable, it 
was only to his loss that a man should go wander- 
ing : the whole affair was unworthy of him. And 


if there be no guide of humanity but the intellect, 
and nothing worthy of its regard but what that in- 
tellect can isolate and describe in the forms peculiar 
to its operations, — that is, if a man has relations to 
nothing beyond his definition, is not a creature of 
the immeasurable, — then these men are right. But 
there have appeared along with them other thinkers 
who could not thus be satisfied — men who had in 
their souls a hunger which the neatest laws of nature 
could not content, who could not live on chemistry, 
or mathematics, or even on geology, without the 
primal law of their many dim-dawning wonders — 
that is, the Being, if such there might be, who 
thought their laws first and then embodied them in 
a world of a^onian growth. These indeed seek law 
likewise, but a perfect law — a law they can believe 
perfect beyond the comprehension of powers of whose 
imperfection they are too painfully conscious. They 
feel in their highest moments a helplessness that 
drives them to search after some Power with a heart 
deeper than his power, who cares for the troubled 
creatures he has made. But still under the influence 
of that faithless hunger for intellectual certainty, 
they look about and divide into two parties: both 
would gladly receive the reported revelation in Jesus, 
the one if they could have evidence enough from 
without, the other if they could only get rid of the 
difficulties it raises within. I am aware that I dis- 
tinguish in the mass, and that both sides would be 
found more or less influenced by the same difficulties 
— but more and less, and therefore thus classified by 


the driving predominance. Those of the one party, 
then, finding no proof to be had but that in testimony, 
and anxious to have all they can — delighting too in a 
certain holy wilfulness of intellectual self-immolation, 
accept the testimony in the mass, and become Roman 
Catholics. Nor is it difficult to see how they then 
find rest. It is not the dogma, but the contact with 
Christ the truth, with Christ the man, which the 
dogma, in pacifying the troubles of the intellect — 
if only by a soporific, has aided them in reaching, 
that gives them peace : it is the truth itself that 
makes them free. 

The worshippers of science will themselves allow, 
that when they cannot gain observations enough to 
satisfy them upon any point in which a law of nature 
is involved, they must, if possible, institute experi- 
ments. I say therefore to those whose observation 
has not satisfied them concerning the phenomenon 
Christianity, — "Where is your experiment ? Why do 
you not thus try the utterance claiming to be the 
law of life ? Call it a hypothesis, and experiment 
upon it. Carry into practice, well justified of your 
conscience, the words which the Man spoke, for 
therein he says himself lies the possibility of your 
acceptance of his mission ; and if, after reasonable 
time thus spent, you are not yet convinced enough 
to give testimony — I will not annoy you by saying 
to facts, but — to conviction, I think neither will you 
be read}- to abandon the continuous experiment." 
These Roman Catholics have thus met with Jesus, 
conn- into personal contact with him : by the doing 


of what he tells us, and by nothing else, arc they 
blessed. What if their theories show to me like a 
burning of the temple and a looking- for the god 
in the ashes ? They know in whom they have 
believed. And if some of us think we have a more 
excellent way, we shall be blessed indeed if the 
result be no less excellent than in such men as 
Faber, Newman, and Aubrey de Vere. Xo man needs 
be afraid that to speak the truth concerning such 
will hasten the dominance of alien and oppressive 
powers ; the truth is free, and to be just is to be 
strong. Should the time come again when Liberty is 
in danger, those who have defended the truth even in 
her adversaries, if such there be, will be found the 
readiest to draw the sword for her, and, hating not, 
yet smite for the liberty to do even them justice. To 
give the justice we claim for ourselves is, if there be 
a Christ, the law of Christ, to obey which is eternally 
better than truest theory. 

I should like to give many of the hymns of Dr. 
Faber. Some of them are grand, others very lovely, 
and some, of course, to my mind considerably repul- 
sive. He seems to me to go wrong nowhere in 
originating — he produces nothing unworthy except 
when he reproduces what he never could have enter- 
tained but for the pressure of acknowledged authority. 
Even such things, however, he has enclosed in pearls, 
as the oyster its incommoding sand-grains. 

His hymn on The Greatness of God is profound ; 
that on The Will of God is very wise; that to The 
God of my Childhood is full of quite woman 1}' tender- 


ness : all are most simple in speech, reminding us in 
this respect of John Mason. In him, no doubt, as in 
all of his class, we find traces of that sentimentalism 
in the use of epithets — small words, as distinguished 
from homely, applied to great things — of which I 
have spoken more than once ; but criticism is not to 
be indulged in the reception of great gifts — of such 
a gift as this, for instance : — 


O Lord ! my heart is sick, 
Sick of this everlasting change ; 
And life runs tediously quick 
Through its unresting race and varied range : 
Change finds no likeness to itself in Thee, 
And wakes no echo in Thy mute eternity. 

Dear Lord ! my heart is sick 
Of this perpetual lapsing time, 

So slow in grief, in joy so quick, 
Yet ever casting shadows so sublime: 
Time of all creatures is least like to Thee, 
And yet it is our share of Thine eternity. 

( )h change and time are storms 
For lives so thin and frail as ours; 

For change the work of grace deforms 
With love that soils, and help that overpowers; 
And time is strong, and, like some chafing sea, 
It seems to fret the shores of Thine eternity. 

Weak, weak, for ever weak ! 
We cannot hold what we possess; 

youth cannot find, age will not seek, — 
Oil weakness is the heart's worst weariness : 
But weakest hearts can lift their thoughts to Thee; 
[I makes US strong to think of Thine eternity. 


Thou hadst no youth, great God ! 
An Unbeginning End Thou art; 

Thy glory in itself abode, 
And still abides in its own tranquil heart: 
No age can heap its outward years on Thee: 
I tear God ! Thou art Thyself Thine own eternity ! 

Without an end or bound 
Thy life lies all outspread in light; 

Our lives feel Thy life all around, 
Making our weakness strong, our darkness bright ; 
Yet is it neither wilderness nor sea, 
But the calm gladness of a full eternity. 

Oh Thou art very great 
To set Thyself so far above ! 

But we partake of Thine estate, 
Established in Thy strength and in Thy love: 
That love hath made eternal room for me 
In the sweet vastness of its own eternity. 

Oh Thou art very meek 
To overshade Thy creatures thus ! 

Thy grandeur is the shade we seek; 
To be eternal is Thy use to us : 
Ah, Blessed God! what joy it is to me 
To lose all thought of self in Thine eternity ! 

Self-wearied, Lord! I come; 
For I have lived my life too fast : 

Now that years bring me nearer home 
Grace must be slowly used to make it last ; 
When my heart beats too quick 1 think 
And of the leisure of Thy long eternity. 

Farewell, vain joys of eartli ! 
Farewell, all love that is not His! 

Dear God! be Thou my only mirth, 
Thy majesty my single timid bliss! 

Oh in the bosom of eternity 
Thou dost not weary of Thyself, nor we of Thee! 


How easily his words flow, even when he is saying 
the deepest things ! The poem is full of the elements 
of the finest mystical metaphysics, and yet there is no 
effort in their expression. The tendency to find God 
beyond, rather than in our daily human conditions, 
is discernible ; but only as a tendency. 

What a pity that the sects are so slow to become 
acquainted with the grand best in each other ! 

I do not find in Dr. Newman either a depth or a 
precision equal to that of Dr. Faber. His earlier 
poems indicate a less healthy condition of mind. 
His Dream of Gcrojitius is, however, a finer, as more 
ambitious poem than any of Faber's. In my judg- 
ment there are weak passages in it, with others of 
real grandeur. But I am perfectly aware of the 
difficulty, almost impossibility, of doing justice to 
men from some of whose forms of thought I am 
greatly repelled, who creep from the sunshine into 
every ruined archway, attracted by the brilliance 
with which the light from its loophole glows in its 
caverned gloom, and the hope of discovering within 
it the first steps of a stair winding up into the blue 
heaven. I apologize for the unavoidable rudeness 
of a critic who would fain be honest if he might ; 
and I humbly thank all such as Dr. Newman, whose 
verses, revealing their saintship, make us long to be 
holier men. 

Of his, as of Faber's, I have room for no more than 
one. It was written off Sardinia. 



() say not thou art left of God, 

Because His tokens in the sky 
Thou canst not read : this earth He trod 

To teach thee He was ever nigh. 
He sees, beneath the fig-tree green, 

Nathaniel con His sacred lore; 
Shouldst thou thy chamber seek, unseen 

He enters through the unopened door. 
And when thou liest, by slumber bound, 

Outwearied in the Christian fight, 
In glory, girt with saints around, 

I Ie stands above thee through the night. 
When friends to Emmaus bend their course, 

He joins, although He holds their eyes : 
Or, shouldst thou feel some fever's force, 

lie takes thy hand, He bids thee rise. 
Or on a voyage, when calms prevail, 

And prison thee upon the sea, 
He walks the waves, He wings the sail, 

The shore is gained, and thou art free. 

Sir Aubrey de Vere is a poet profound in feeling, 
and gracefully tender in utterance. I give one short 
poem and one sonnet. 

Love thy God, and love Him only: 
And thy breast will ne'er be lonely. 
In that one great Spirit meet 
All things mighty, grave, and sweet 
Vainly strives the soul to mingle 
With a being of our kind : 
Vainly hearts with hearts are twined: 
For the deepest still is single. 
An impalpable resistance 
Holds like natures still at distance. 
Mortal ! love that Holy One I 
Or dwell for aye alone. 
S.L. iv. Y 


I respond most heartily to the last two lines ; but 
I venture to add, with regard to the preceding six, 
" Love that holy One, and the impalpable resistance 
will vanish ; for when thou seest him enter to sup 
with thy neighbour, thou wilt love that neighbour as 


Ye praise the humble : of the meek ye say, 

" Happy they live among their lowly bowers ; 

" The mountains, and the mountain-storms are ours." 

Thus, self-deceivers, filled with pride ahvay, 

Reluctant homage to the good ye pay, 

Mingled with scorn like poison sucked from flowers — 

Revere the humble ; godlike are their powers : 

No mendicants for praise of men are they. 

The child who prays in faith " Thy will be done" 

Is blended with that Will Supreme which moves 

A wilderness of worlds by Thought untrod ; 

lie shares the starry sceptre, and the throne: 

The man who as himself his neighbour loves 

Looks down on all tilings with the eyes of God! 

Is it a fancy that, in the midst of all this devotion 
and lovely thought, I hear the mingled mournful tone 
of such as have cut off a right hand and plucked 
out a right eye, which had not caused them to offend ? 
This is tenfold better than to have spared offending 
members ; but the true Christian ambition is to fill 
the divine scheme of humanity — abridging nothing, 
ignoring nothing, denying nothing, calling nothing un- 
clean, but burning everything a thank-offering in the 
flame of life upon the altar of absolute devotion to 
the Father and Saviour of men. We must not throw 


away half his gifts, that we may earn- the other half 

in both hands to his altar. 

But sacred fervour is confined to no sect. Here it 
is of the profoundest, and uttered with a homely 
tenderness equal to that of the earliest writers. Mrs. 
Browning, the princess of poets, was no partisan. 
If my work were mainly critical, I should feel bound 
to remark upon her false theory of English rhyme, 
and her use of strange words. That she is careless 
too in her general utterance I cannot deny ; but in 
idea she is noble, and in phrase magnificent. Some 
of her sonnets are worthy of being ranged with the 
best in our language — those of Milton and Words- 


When some Beloveds, 'neath whose eyelids lay 

The sweet lights of my childhood, one by one 

Did leave me dark before the natural sun, 

And I astonied fell, and could not pray, 

A thought within me to myself did say. 

" Is God less God that thou art left undone ? 

Rise, worship, bless Him! in this sackcloth spun, 

But I answer, Nay ! 
What child his filial heart in word- can loose, 
If he behold his tender father raise 
The hand that chastens sorely? Can he choose 
But sob in silence with an upward gaze? 
And my great father, thinking fit to bruise, 
Discerns in speechless tears both prayer and praise. 


Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet, 

From out the hallelujahs sweet and low, 
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss th< 
Who art not missed by any that entreat. 
Y 2 


Speak to me as to Mary at thy feet — 
And if no precious gums my hands bestow, 
Let my tears drop like amber, while 1 go 
In reach of thy divinest voice complete 
In humanest affection — thus, in sooth 
To lose the sense of losing ! As a child, 
Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore, 
Is sung to in its stead by mother's mouth ; 
Till sinking on her breast, love-reconciled, 
He sleeps the faster that he wept before. 

Gladly would I next give myself to the exposition 

of several of the poems of her husband, Robert 
Browning, especially the Christmas Eve and Easter 
Day ; in the first of which lie sets forth in marvellous 
rhymes the necessity both for widest sympathy with 
the varied forms of Christianity, and for individual 
choice in regard to communion ; in the latter, what 
it is to choose the world and lose the life. But this 
would take many pages, and would be inconsistent 
witli the plan of my book. 

When I have given two precious stanzas, most wise 
as well as most lyrical and Lovely, from the poems of 
our honoured Charles Kingslcy, I shall turn to the 
other of the classes into which the devout thinkers 
of the day have divided. 

My fairest child, 1 have no song to give you ; 
No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey; 

Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you 
For every day. 

He good, Sweet maid, and let who will be elever; 
I)<> noble things, not dream them, all day long; 

And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever 

One grand, sweet song. 


Surely these last, who. have not accepted tradition 

in the mass, who believe that we must, as our Lord 
demanded of the Jews, of our own selves judge 
what is right, because therein his spirit works with 
our spirit, — worship the Truth not less devotedly 
than the}' who rejoice in holy tyranny over their 



AND now I turn to the other class — that which, 
while the former has fled to tradition for refuge from 
doubt, sets its face towards the spiritual east, and in 
prayer and sorrow and hope looks for a dawn — the 
noble band of reverent doubters — as unlike those of 
the last century who scoffed, as those of the present 
who pass on the other side. They too would know ; 
but they know enough already to know further, that 
it is from the hills and not from the mines their aid 
must come. They know that a perfect intellectual 
proof would leave them doubting all the same; that 
their high questions cannot be answered to the intel- 
lect alone, for their whole nature is the questioner; 
that the answers can only come as questioners and 
their questions grow towards them. Hence, grow- 
ing hope, blossoming over and anon into the white 
flower of confidence, is their answer as yet ; their 
hope -the Beatific Vision— the happy-making sights 
as .Milton o nders the word of the mystics. 

It is strange how gentle a certain large class of the 
priesthood will be with those who, believing there 


is a God, find it hard to trust him, and how fierce 
with those who, unable, from the lack of harmony 
around and in them, to say they are sure there is 
a God, would yet, could they find him, trust him 
indeed. " Ah, but," answer such of the clergy and 
their followers, t4 you want a God of your own making." 
" Certainly," the doubters reply, "we do not want a 
God of your making : that would be to turn the uni- 
verse into a hell, and you into its torturing demons. 
We want a God like that man whose name is so often 
on your lips, but whose spirit you understand so little 
— so like him that he shall be the bread of life to all 
our hunger — not that hunger only already satisfied 
in you, who take the limit of your present conscious- 
ness for that of the race, and say, * This is all the 
world needs:' we know the bitterness of our own 
hearts, and your incapacity for intermeddling with its 
joy. We 

have another mountain-range, from whence 
Bui 1 unutterably bright ; 

nor for us only, but for you also, who will not have 
the truth except it come to you in a system autho- 
rized of man."' 

I have attributed a general utterance to these men, 
widely different from each other as I know they are. 

Here is a voice from one of them, Arthur Hugh 
Clough, who died in 1861, well beloved. It fol- 
lows upon two fine poems, called The Questioning 
Spirit and Bethesda, in which is represented the 
condition of many of the finest minds of the pre- 


sent century. Let us receive it as spoken by one 
in the foremost ranks of these doubters, men re- 
viled by their brethren who dare not doubt for fear 
of offending the God to whom they attribute their 
own jealousy. But God is assuredly pleased with 
those who will neither lie for him, quench their dim 
vision of himself, nor count that his mind which they 
would despise in a man of his making-. 

Across the sea, along the shore, 

In numbers more and ever more, 

From lonely hut and busy town, 

The valley through, the mountain down. 

What was it ye went out to see, 

Ye silly folk of Galilee ? 

The reed that in the wind doth shake? 

The weed that washes in the lake? 

The reeds that waver, the weeds that float ? 

A young man preaching in a boat 

What was it ye went out to hear 
V>y sea and land, from far and near? 
A teacher? Rather seek the feet 
Of those who sit in Moses 1 seat. 
Go humbly seek, and bow to them. 
Far off in great Jerusalem. 
From them that in her courts ye saw, 

Her perfect doctors of the law. 
What is it came ye hne to note? — 

A young man preaching in a boat. 

A prophet ! Boys and women weak ! 
Declare, or cease to rave : 

Whence- is it he hatl. learned to speak? 

Say, who his doctrine gave ? 
A prophet ' Prophel wherefore he 

( )f all in Israel tribes ? — 
lie teacheth with authority ^ 

And not as do the Scribes. 


Here is another from one who will not be offended 

if I class him with this school — the finest of critics as 
one of the most finished of poets — Matthew Arnold. 
Only my reader must remember that of none of my 
poets am I free to choose that which is most charac- 
teristic : I have the scope of my volume to restrain me. 


He saves the sheep; the goats he doth not - 

rang Tertullian's sentence, on the side 
( )f that unpitying Phrygian sect which cried : 
" I [im can no fount of fresh forgiveness lave, 
Who sins, once washed by the baptismal wave ! " 
So spake the fierce Tertullian. But she sighed, 
The infant Church: of love she felt the tide 
Stream on her from her Lord's yet recent grave. 
And then she smiled, and in the Catacombs, 
With eve suffused but heart inspired true, 
On those walls subterranean, where she hid 
Her head in ignominy, death, and tombs, 
She her Good Shepherd's hasty image drew ; 
And on his shoulders, not a land), a kid. 

Of these writers, Tennyson is the foremost : he 
has written the poem of the hoping doubters, the 
poem of our age, the grand minor organ-fugue of 
/// Memoriam. It is the cry of the bereaved Psyche 
into the dark infinite after the vanished Love. J lis 
friend is nowhere in his sight, and God is silent. 
Death, God's final compulsion to prayer, in its dread, 
its gloom, its utter stillness, its apparent nothingness, 
urges the cry. Moanings over the dead are mingled 
with profoundest questionings of philosophy, the sighs 
of nature, and the story of Jesus, while now and then 


the star of the morning, bright Phosphor, flashes a 
few rays through the- shifting cloudy dark. And if 
the sun has not arisen on the close of the book, yet 
the Aurora of the coming dawn gives light enough 
to make the onward journey possible and hopeful : 
who dares say that he walks in the full light ? that 
the counsels of God are to him not a matter of 
faith, but of vision ? 

Bewildered in the perplexities of nature's enigmas, 
and driven by an awful pain of need, Tennyson be- 
takes himself to the God of nature, thus : 

The wish, that of the living whole 
No life may fail beyond the grave; 
Derives it not from what we have 

The likest God within the soul ? 

Are God and Nature then at strife, 
That Nature Lends such evil dreams, 
So careful of the type she seems, 

So careless of the single life ; 

That I, considering everywhere 
I [er secret meaning in her deeds, 
And finding that of fifty seeds 

She: often brings hut one to bear; 

I falter where I firmly trod, 
And falling with my weight of cares 
Upon the great world's altar-stairs 

That slope thro' darkness up to God : 

1 Btretch lame hands of faith, and grope, 

And gather dust and chaff, and call 
To what I feel is Lord of all, 
And faintly trust the larger hope. 


Once more, this is how he uses the gospel-tale : 
Mary has returned home from the sepulchre, with 
Lazarus so late its prey, and her sister and Jesus : — 

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer, 
Nor other thought her mind admits 
But, he was dead, and there he sits, 

And he that brought him back is there. 

Then one deep love doth supersede 
All other, when her ardent gaze 
Roves from the living brother's face, 

And rests upon the Life indeed. 

All subtle thought, all curious fears, 
Borne down by gladness so complete, 
She bows, she bathes the Saviour's feet 

With costly spikenard and with u 

Thrice Li. es are faithful pri 

-c loves in higher love endure ; 
What souls possess themselves so pure. 
Or is there blessedness like theirs ? 

I have thus traced — how slightly! — the course of 
the religious poetry of England, from simple song, 
lovingly regardful of sacred story and legend, through 
the chant of philosophy, to the full-toned lyric of 
adoration. I have shown how the stream sinks in the 
sands of an evil taste generated by the worship of 
power and knowledge, and that a new growth of the 


love of nature — beauty counteracting not contradict- 
ing science — has led it by a fair channel back to the 
simplicities of faith in some, and to a holy question- 
ing in others ; the one class having for its faith, the 
other for its hope, that the heart of the Father is a 
heart like ours, a heart that will receive into its noon 
the song that ascends from the twilighted hearts of 
his children. 

Gladly would I have prayed for the voices of many 
more of the singers of our country's psalms. Especially 
do I regret the arrival of the hour, because of the 
voices of living men and women. But the time is 
over and gone. The twilight has already embrowned 
the gray glooms of the cathedral arches, and is 
driving us forth to part at the door. 

But the singers will yet sing on to him that hath 
ears to hear. When he returns to seek them, the 
shadowy door will open to his touch, the long-drawn 
aisles receding will guide his eye to the carven choir, 
and there they still stand, the sweet singers, content 
to repeat ancient psalm and new song to the prayer 
of the humblest whose heart would join in England's 



r\ cs.